The New York City council passed a bill today that will create the city’s first centralized digital hub meant specifically for urban agriculture. This hub will be run entirely by the city and will hopefully be seen as a resource for both new and established businesses.
This bill, entitled 1661-A, is sponsored by council member Rafael Espinal, at the request of Eric L. Adams, the Brooklyn Borough President, and passed overwhelmingly with a 47-0 vote in the City Council. According to Espinal, this bill will bring a new excitement to New Yorkers who are looking to go green and healthy with the expansion of the urban agriculture sector.
“Our bill creates, for the first time, a resource for urban farmers and community gardeners to start-up and grow an urban farm,” said Council Member Espinal, “Our urban farmers are operating in an ambiguous and grey area, not receiving the support and information they needed from our city government. Smart, innovative urban-farming techniques are leading the food revolution and supplying healthy locally grown food to our communities. It is time NYC step up and support this movement with our own digital tools to make it easier for these entrepreneurs and acknowledge our commitment to this industry. This is only a first step in my undivided commitment to growing this vital sector, and I look forward to working with all stakeholders to develop more influential policy in the near future.”
The website will be run by the New York City Parks and Recreation Department in collaboration with educators and representatives from existing community gardens. The site, which will go live on July 1st, 2018, will act as a one-stop-shop database for those looking to get involved with local urban gardens and farms and to help aid those who are looking to start their own. The site will also provide guidelines by the New York City Department of City Planning and New York City Department of Small Businesses to assist prospective urban farmers to develop new centers in their communities.
“Intro 1661-A is our first step, and by no means our last step, to supporting broad-based growth of urban agriculture in New York City,” said Borough President Adams, “helping entrepreneurs and everyday gardeners navigate the complex regulatory landscape of our City is a meaningful mission. Our work with community farmers, small business innovators, and urban planners is far from over. Our full harvest is yet to come.”
According to a press release “urban agriculture is estimated to be a $9 billion industry in the United States, with the potential to feed 20 million people in the New York City metropolitan area”. Sounds like a win-win!