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SPN Panel on Urban Agriculture: The Opportunity and Obstacles

Moderator: Daniel Bowman Simon, People's Garden NYC

Panelists: Christina Mitchell Grace, Manager, Urban Food Systems Program, NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets; Ian Marvy, Executive Director, Added Value and Herban Solutions; Nevin Cohen, Assistant Professor, New School, Principal at Topology; Janine Yorio, Managing Director and Founder, NewSeed Advisors; Bilen Berhanu, Outreach Coordinator, Green Thumb, City of New York Parks & Recreation Panel Description: This season’s buzzword, Urban Agriculture, keeps cropping up as many community leaders, start-ups, and increasingly, venture capitalists begin to spread the seeds of this new sustainability solution. Urban Agriculture, the production of food within or on the fringe of cities, is not a new concept. In fact, it has been practiced for centuries. However, proponents argue today’s cities need much more scaled-up, efficient Urban Agriculture to transform under-utilized real estate and public spaces into profitable revenue and job sources; provide equitable access to fresh local food with lower environmental footprints and higher nutritional value; and strengthen local communities.
The growing interest in Urban Agriculture is linked to broader concerns that our current conventional agricultural system doesn’t effectively provide nutritious, sustainable and equitable food supplies. Hidden costs such as soil and water depletion, high carbon emissions and energy costs, rising obesity and diet-related health problems, reduced food safety, declining rural communities, minimal animal welfare standards, and food insecurity make a shift to more local, decentralized food systems increasingly attractive.

To shift from faraway, invisible food supply chains to local, integrated ones we must rethink dominant societal agricultural assumptions, rework supply chains, and reposition consumer demand. In this light, SPN’s expert representatives from agriculture, finance, government, NGOs and academia will highlight the opportunities and obstacles for 21st century Urban Agriculture. Their panel discussion of top-level strategic issues, current market and policy conditions, and evolving best practices will help evaluate how pragmatically and effectively Urban Agricultural methods can produce and distribute healthy food within an environmentally, socially, and economically healthy system.
About SPN: The Sustainability Practice Network (SPN) is a New-York-based forum for professionals working with corporate responsibility and sustainability issues to build community based on learning, discussion, information and idea exchange. There are over one thousand members on our list-serve, representing practitioners from industry, academia, government and NGO's. For more information please visit:
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