Urban Agriculture Takes Root on NYC Campuses

Posted by Kerry Trueman, eatingliberally.orgFifth Avenue’s about the last place you’d expect to see cabbages and kale flourishing, but a mini farm has sprouted up like some agrarian apparition inside the gallery at Parsons The New School for Design at Fifth Avenue and 13th Street. Installed by the Yale Sustainable Food Project, it’s just the latest tasty testament to the fervor for food gardening that’s sweeping schools across the country.The exhibit features three 15 foot-long planters filled with Red Russian kale, Osaka Purple mustard greens, Bright Lights swiss chard, Ruby Moon hyacinth beans, and other highly ornamental edibles. The mini farm, on display till May, is being lovingly tended by Parsons and New School students.Just a few blocks south, New York University has its own urban farmer faction--the NYU Community Agriculture Club. They’ve been busy constructing cold frames at Washington Square Village to shelter the seedlings started back in February by folks who attended their event, Room to Grow: Participatory Landscapes and Urban Agriculture at NYU.Room to Grow featured a keynote from recent NYU grad and permaculture expert Adam Brock, based on his research into how incorporating productive food gardens into the campus landscape could improve food security, build community, and help curb New York City’s carbon foodprint.A panel discussion followed, with participants including FSNYC member and NYU grad student Annie Myers, author of a terrific study on urban farms and city planning. One of Myers’ many current projects is Radishes and Rubbish, an exploration of “the little food systems we support and the waste systems upon which we rely.”Brock and Myers are part of an extraordinary community of young activists in our region who are seeking solutions to the many social and environmental ills fostered by our current methods of food production and distribution. The work that some of these youths are doing to create a healthier, more equitable and sustainable food system will be showcased at The Youth Forum & Expo: Food, Farming and Active Living on April 16 at Hostos Community College.