Cities across New York State have developed sustainability plans to address climate change, food insecurity, and other challenges confronting governments today. The Sustainability Plans for the ten regions of New York can be found at: http://www.nyserda.ny.gov/All-Programs/Programs/Cleaner-Greener-Communities/Regional-Sustainability-Plans. Some examples of city-wide plans are:
- New York City’s PlanNYC 2030 at http://www.nyc.gov/html/planyc2030/;
- The City of Syracuse’s Sustainability Plan at http://www.syracuse.ny.us/sustainabilityplan.aspx;
- Buffalo’s Green Code at http://www.buffalogreencode.com/.
Additionally, New York Department of Environmental Conservation launched a Climate Smart Communities initiative that, among other pledges, commits to enhancing the farms, orchards, and ecological communities of New York Start (http://www.dec.ny.gov/energy/76483.html).
Tools for Advocating for Urban Farming
Given the recent attention of city governments to sustainability, now is the perfect opportunity to advocate for urban farming and its incorporation into the planning process. When advocating for zoning and ordinance changes that support urban farming, certain planning tools can help:
- Food charters (a document that describes a community’s agricultural policy, food distribution channels, food access, sustainability, and other issues relating to food to help guide advocacy strategy)
- Food policy councils (a group of stakeholders that examines a local food system and how it might be improved)
- Community food assessments (an assessment of community food security, including the locations and incidences of food deserts and strategies for increasing community food access, nutrition, etc.)
Additional information on these and other advocacy and planning resources is provided in Urban Agriculture: Growing Healthy, Sustainable Places by Kimberly Hodgson, Marcia Caton Campbell, and Martin Bailkey (American Planning Association, 2011).
Also see What’s Cooking in Your Food System: A Guide to Community Food Assessment by Kami Pothukuchi, Hugh Joseph, Hannah Burton, and Andy Fisher (Community Food Security Coalition, 2002), available for free download at http://www.downtowndevelopment.com/pdf/whats_cooking.pdf. This resource provides information on community food assessments, from planning to designing, carrying out, and applying research results.
The American Planning Association’s National Centers on Planning features several food system planning resources and publications at https://www.planning.org/resources/ontheradar/food/.
The Resource Centres on Urban Agriculture & Food Security (RUAF Foundation) is international in focus, and provides resources to integrate of urban farming and planning, including monitoring and evaluation methods to measure the impact of urban agriculture. Visit their website at http://www.ruaf.org/.
In 2011, the Turner Environmental Law Clinic compiled a report for Georgia Organics surveying the zoning ordinances for sixteen U.S. cities that have incorporated urban agriculture into land use planning. The publication, “Urban Agriculture: A Sixteen City Survey of Urban Agriculture Practices across the Country” is a helpful starting place when advocating for zoning changes, and is available at http://www.jhsph.edu/research/centers-and-institutes/johns-hopkins-center-for-a-livable-future/pdf
The Carrot City Initiative
The Carrot Initiative examines the role of design in enabling urban food production, and features a database of over 100 case studies of urban agricultural projects worldwide, as well as the Carrot City: Creating Places for Urban Agriculture by Mark Gorgolewski, June Komisar, and Joe Nasr (Monacelli Press, 2011). For more information and to view the Carrot City database, visit http://www.ryerson.ca/carrotcity/.