The Mayor's anti-obesity campaign is launching a new initiative to create "urban farms" on New York City public housing property. Yesterday the first of these farms, the Red Hook Urban Farm, debuted on a 1-acre plot of land on NYCHA property; it's the first-ever large-scale community farm of its kind on public housing property. Five more are planned citywide.
"We have taken a clear look at where obesity strikes hardest, and food access has emerged as one of the indispensable planks in our strategies to fight poverty and improve outcomes for young black and Latino Men," said Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs. "The Red Hook Urban Farm will provide residents with access to a healthy source of produce while also providing young people with a pathway to education and employment."
Installation of the farm came from participants in the Center for Economic Opportunity's Work Progress Program, and from it 34 people have been placed in urban agriculture jobs. It's a trend that organizers hope to continue by providing education and job training on site. The other result of the farm is obviously fresh produce, some of which will be donated to needy families in the community and the rest of which will be sold at farmers' markets operated by Added Value, a local nonprofit that engages area youths by training them in sustainable farming.
NYCHA currently has five other housing developments targeted for farms and just needs providers to implement the initiative. While every new city initiative always brings out the critics, this seems to be a less controversial use of public housing land than other recent endeavors.