The Pandemic has shown us how fragile our food network is.
Whether it was food shortages, toilet paper, paper towels, or groceries whose prices who haven’t gone down.
New York City must have a sustainable food supply.
More and more we are seeing that the future of agriculture is Urban.
That is why today we are establishing an Office of Urban Agriculture to work with existing commercial urban farms, expand them, and remove barriers to entry across agencies through the lens of social and economic justice.
The office will work with NYCHA’s building health communities to build farms on public housing land to offer our lowest income New Yorkers access to healthy food and economic opportunity.
Supporting our vast network of community gardens. Not to mention expanding Grow to Learn, from a current 725 schools, throughout the city.
In my own district, we’ve worked with Grow NYC to bring planters and urban agriculture to every school in the neighborhood.
All of this comes after years of work, starting with Speaker Corey Johnson who proposed the advisory board that will also be implemented by this legislation. There will be representation from organizations focusing on climate, restorative, and social justice, with representation from youth whose voices have been leading this fight.
Council Member Rafael Espinal and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams invested $2 million in partnership with EDC to build out Urban Agriculture in Brooklyn and originally introduced this legislation to bring it citywide.
I went to public high school in the Bronx on the same block as Dewitt Clinton which now boasts a student-built 1,300 square foot hydroponic farm. Through Teens for Food Justice, I met students who have harvested 25,000 pounds of produce have been harvested. Most of it has shown up in their school lunch, 30-60 pounds donated to local food pantries, and some is still left over to sell at farmers markets.
This isn’t the only program, and we need more. Int. 1663 will create the office of Urban Agriculture and its Advisory Board to get that done!
Thank you Speaker Corey Johnson, Rafeal Espinal, Borough President Adams, and the Economic Development Committee staff including Counsel Alex Paulenoff.
will include important voices from organizations that promote urban agriculture and focus on issues, such as climate, restorative and social justice,as well as restaurant industry, policy experts, promoting diversity including age --a Youth rep
----facilitate cooperation between the office of food policy, department of parks and recreation, department of city planning and other agencies such as NYCHA and DOE.
“This bill would establish an Office of Urban Agriculture and an Urban Agriculture Advisory Board. The Office of Urban Agriculture would conduct outreach, receive comments and respond to questions regarding urban agriculture, make recommendations about protecting and expanding urban agriculture, and establish a program to support research for advancing urban agriculture legislation and policy. The Urban Agriculture Advisory Board would consist of thirteen members and would advise the Office of Urban Agriculture, the Mayor and the Council on issues relating to urban agriculture.”
Powers of the office:
c. Powers and duties. The director shall have the power and the duty to:
1. Conduct education and outreach to promote urban agriculture and inform the public about urban agriculture, its benefits and ways to participate;
2. Receive comments and respond to inquiries related to urban agriculture;
3. Make recommendations to the office of long-term planning and sustainability and the heads of relevant agencies with respect to protecting and expanding urban agriculture for the purposes of sustainability, resiliency, environmental protection, health, community development and small business planning; (Note: “the plan” legislation today )
4. Establish a program in coordination with the office of food policy, department of parks and recreation, department of city planning and other relevant agencies to:
(a) Support research for advancing urban agriculture legislation and policy within the city; and
(b) Receive and respond to comments, questions and complaints with respect to such program.
d. The mayor shall establish an urban agriculture advisory board to advise the director, the mayor and the council on issues relating to urban agriculture.
What inspired Espinal/BP:
“...study conducted by the Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship (CUBE) at Brooklyn Law School, which found that New York City has enough unused rooftop space — totaling 14,000 acres — to grow enough produce that could feed as many as 20 million people in the New York metropolitan area. The study also found that, although urban farming accounts for about 15 to 20 percent of world agriculture, New York City’s rooftop farming practices are limited to commercial and industrial zones along with school buildings. Growing and selling produce on the same lot is prohibited regardless of zone, and no information is provided to the public on whether indoor farming is allowed in any zone. The Zoning Resolution only mentions the word “agriculture” a handful of times, thereby making urban agriculture permissive but unclear as to precise policy. The lack of a coherent citywide urban agriculture strategy means the City continues to have difficulty accounting for the food deserts that are located across lower income neighborhoods, whose residents lack sufficient access to grocery stores or fresh produce.”- from BP website
Thank you to former Council Member Rafael Espinal who championed this plan Council Woman Allicka-Ampry Samuel's legislation creating an urban agriculture plan, this Council is sending a strong message on the ecological, economic, and health benefits of a city committed to urban agriculture. Lastly, I want to thank Speaker Corey Johnson, who proposed an advisory board back in 2015, for his longstanding and serious commitment to improving food policy in New York City
scroll down for bill text
-Espinal proposed Urban Agriculture Plan Int 1661-2017, bill text does not specifically establish an office, but messaging talks about creating an office
-Plan bill reduced to A version of just an urban agriculture website passed at the end of session 2017 (‘I was proud to vote for legislation creating an urban agriculture websites connecting information from Parks, City Planning and SBS and now we can go farther) heres the website:https://www1.nyc.gov/site/agriculture/index.page (I just learned the rooster down the block that wakes the neighborhood daily is illegal..thanks Urban Agriculture website with very minimal useful info..”now, with an office, can expand content and data for NYers to easily access.”Yes, of course we have roosters in the Bronx….)
-BP Adams is signed on the Plan legislation being passed today, not on our create the office leg
This session, Espinal introduces bill to create office and bill to create plan
In 2015, CM Corey introd Int 0838-2015, heard in 2015, filed end of session: This bill would establish an urban agriculture advisory board to identify existing and potential agricultural food production sites, opportunities to increase local agricultural food production, impediments to local agricultural food production, and consider means to expand urban agriculture training programs. His remarks (hearing transcript) at the 2015 hearing before stepping out: “...I want to keep my comments brief because we are really here today to hear from all of you to bring light to this policy area, and have a public conversation. But, I want to very quickly extol some of the virtues of urban agriculture, which I think the chair spelled out very well. And I look forward to you all teaching me more about the area, and I know that we have to create space both physical and policy space to foster the conversation, and to work though some of the barriers that you all currently face. Urban agriculture needs to be a part of New York City's future so that we can provide residents with nutritional food at low cost so that we can strengthen the commitment to the environment and to our residents, farmers and workforce. And so, that we can promote sustainability and resiliency, and give our communities useful, practical and beautiful green space for public use, for education and for urban beauty….”
Quote for release:"Urban agriculture needs to be a big part of our future as a City. It is a great tool in the fight against climate change and a practice that could help New York City be more self-sufficient as we face supply chain issues that could lead to food shortages," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "This legislation creating an Office of Urban Agriculture and a corresponding advisory board for community input works to improve our City by promoting parks, gardens, green roofs. Whether it is improving access to healthy foods in low-income neighborhoods or even creating new jobs, the practice of Urban agriculture will help in these fights. Thank you to former Council Member Rafael Espinal who championed this and related legislation while in office. Today as we also pass Council Woman Allicka-Ampry Samuel's legislation creating an urban agriculture plan, this Council is sending a strong message on the ecological, economic, and health benefits of a city committed to urban agriculture. Lastly, I want to thank Speaker Corey Johnson, who proposed an advisory board back in 2015, for his longstanding and serious commitment to improving food policy in New York City. He understands why this is important and has been an ally in getting this done."
-Food Equity report 2019
-release in 2019 with the whole Food Equity Plan , of which this bill was a part: https://council.nyc.gov/press/2019/08/01/1786/