Urban Farming Offers Progress in Brooklyn

NYC's Building Healthy Communities initiative has had a tangible impact in Brooklyn.

For the past two years, a one-acre farm hosted by Red Hook Houses has supplied the community with nutrition, income, work experience and an overall healthier outlook.

Launched in June 2013, the Red Hook West Urban Farm has served as blueprint for planned farming sites across NYC. AmeriCorps program Green City Force, (GCF) which recruits and trains 18-to-24-year-old NYCHA residents, supplies the workers. As a result, the farm has helped to bolstered the prospects of youth in Red Hook, providing them with job training, career planning, and monetary compensation. All the while, they receive education in environmentally sustainability.

Produce from the farm goes to several farmer’s markets throughout NYC. The revenue goes towards stipends for the GCF, whose workers commit to six-month, full-time programs.

Urban farming remains a critical piece of the Building Healthy Communities initiative. The NYCHA has started an Urban Agriculture program, based off the results in Red Hook. The effort will increase access to healthy food choices by adding farms to five historically underprivileged neighborhoods over the next two years. The Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund has provided a $500,000 grant to assist the endeavor.

Since its inception in 2007, the Illumination Fund has proven its commitment to urban farming. Previously, the Fund supplied the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s NYC Green Carts initiative, which brought healthier food choices to low-income neighborhoods.

Working together, these organizations have brought new opportunities to the neighborhood of Red Hook. Thanks to the introduction of urban farming, the oft-neglected community now boasts healthier lifestyle choices and a new source of income, employment and training. The one-acre farm at Red Hook West will act as a model for the rest of the city, to bring greener lifestyles and more opportunities to underserved communities.