Moderator: Nevin Cohen, Assistant Professor, New School, Principal at Topology
Panelists: Bruce M. Kahn, Ph.D., Director and Senior Investment Analyst, DB Climate Change Advisors, Deutsche Asset Management; Miquela Craytor, Executive Director, Sustainable South Bronx; Mark Harari, Co-President, Founder, PhbCatalyst; Sarah Brannen, Senior Policy Analyst, New York City Council; Eldad Gothelf, Sr. Planning & Development Specialist, Herrick, Feinstein LLP; Ed Harwood, CEO and Founder, AeroFarms
Many disadvantaged New York City neighborhoods lie within “food deserts,” where a lack of grocery stores and farms limit access to affordable, fresh food, paradoxically exacerbating both obesity and hunger. Rising unemployment additionally curtails the luxury of healthy diets. In 2009, 3.3 million of New Yorkers struggled to pay for food and 1.6 million received food stamps.
Urban Agriculture provides opportunities to optimize under-utilized space for growing food, provide jobs and skills training, and implement new technologies, leading to substantial health, economic and environmental benefits. Yet despite heavy interest in urban agriculture in New York City, many zoning, financial and organizational obstacles prevent large-scale expansion and permanence.
To help incentivize the establishment of grocery stores in underserved communities, the NYCEDC’s Food Retail Expansion to Support Health (FRESH) program has released an RFP (attached) for the development of a 109,000 square foot Bronx site. One team responding to the RFP, lead by Mark Harari, plan to submit their draft proposal, which includes an urban farm component, for review by expert agricultural operator, developer, finance, government and NGO representatives several weeks before the SPN panel event. The SPN panel will follow a design charette format, with the development team presenting their proposal for expert panelist (and audience) critiquing.