Brooklyn Grows

I was introduced to the Brooklyn Grange project through a friend who is doing work for the collective.  This project is working to create new and sustainable methods of urban farming in Brooklyn, NY.  Currently Brooklyn Grange occupies two rooftops and is growing over 40,000 pounds of organic produce a year.  Although only three years old, this project has made incredible leaps and bounds towards developing urban farming methods that can be considered for future expansion of urban space.

BGourfarms-NorthernBLVDTheir mission is “To create a fiscally sustainable model for urban agriculture and to produce healthy, delicious vegetables for our local community while doing the ecosystem a few favors as well.”  The intentions of this project are pretty obvious, create a path for future city development through the passion these people share for farming, but the challenge of doing this in a way that appeals to the community and people outside the community is the issue.  We have all heard the arguments surrounding the “local” movement and the importance of creating sustainable living methods, but whether or not people are willing to accept the challenge is the real issue we face.  Through projects like Brooklyn Grange, people are introduced to the importance and success of these sustainable developments on a daily basis.  With only two rooftop farms in action, the BK Grange has produced over 40,000 pounds of fresh produce per year, suggesting the immense possibilites available through rooftop conversion.  According to the USDA “Fact Book”, the average American consumes roughly 20o pounds of fresh vegetables a year.  This means that with only two rooftops, equivalent to only about two acres, Brooklyn Grange provides for over 200 Americans a year.  Imagine the possibilities!  Seeing is believing, and having a rooftop farm in view from your office or apartment window on a daily basis can have some profound impact on your understanding of urban growth possibilities.

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I believe that the biggest obstacle we face in the movement towards a “Localvore” sense of consumption is convincing people that this is in fact the step forward we must take.  It is hard to move away from the practices we have had in play for so long, but the time has come where we must make a decision about how we will adapt to our changing global situation.  Continuing to consume products through impractical means of shipping and receiving will, at some point, no longer stand as a feasible option of consumption and instead of having to deal with the total collapse of this system we need to begin incorporating more sustainable methods into our daily lives.  Although I, and I would assume Brooklyn Grange, don’t believe that the solution is as simple as converting our rooftops to Green spaces I do believe that projects such as these open our eyes to the possibilities for the future.  Through a combination of methods put forward by these progressive thinkers, I believe that we can create a more environmentally friendly means of consumption and sustainability.

What do you think?  Are projects like these a step in the right direction, or merely a temporary solution to keep people happy?  And, if you’re not convinced, what do you think is the next step forward?

 

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Food Foward

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Food Forward was a PBS series that aired in 2012 critiquing the American food system.  The show documented how the system works and the flaws in which continue to be inflicted upon us as consumers.  Through interviews with chefs, farmers, teachers and many others involved in the complex chain of distribution, we get an inside look on what people across the country are doing to right the wrongs inflicted upon us.  The purpose of the show was to create conversation and encourage people to explore these alternative options rather than serve as another warning message or popular cooking show.  Information presented throughout the show provides unique perspectives into more sustainable methods of providing the country with food.  The episode I came across was great!  Instead of presenting information about how doomed our planet is, and leaving us feeling depressed and worried. Food Forward presented encouraging stories from truly inspirational people.  In the episode I saw Abeni Ramsey from Oakland, California is working to improve the city by reshaping what we have come to understand as the “cityscape”.  She is working to convert abandoned city property into local urban farmland.  By involving the community, she has been able to clean up the city and provide fresh produce and goods to people in the area.  This has not only done wonders for teaching people about good food and eating healthier, but has brought the people together in a restorative manner.  Cleaning up decrepit city property and greening the city have as much importance as the city itself.  With cities growing and more and more being built, encouraging city dwellers to work towards a greener landscape and providing safe and healthy places for kids and their parents to spend time becomes something of serious importance.

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Rockaway Taco

Located on the Queens shoreline, Rockaway Taco is a small collective of people working to provide the community with a local food option.  Rockaway taco is a NYC establishment that has created an alternative to the typical city understanding of a “corner store”.  Growing as much of their own produce as possible in the tight confinements of city property lines and encouraging the intake of locally produced goods, Rockaway suggests that our current consumption of goods from far away places is not our only option.  Maximizing our space in urban environments and producing a product that no longer has to be moved long distances is the next logical movement in “green development”.  Rockaway provides the local community with a market full of fresh goods, a menu full of locally inspired food items, and a space for gardening produce that can than be sold through the Rockaway store front.  This video and this establishment have inspired me since the first time I saw it to one day create a sustainable restaurant that not only grows as much of what it needs as possible, but also works to provide inspiration for others to work towards a greener way of living.

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Soil Kitchen

The Soil Kitchen documentary is about a collection of Philadelphians that formed a soil-testing center within the city.  The idea behind their effort is to test soil for people who are interested in growing a garden inside the city limits.  Philadelphia is littered with brown fields, places that contain contaminated soils, which not only put the daily lives of the city dwellers at risk, but also prevent people from using the soil for growing.  Providing free soil samples for interested civilians worked to improve city conditions and bring these hazard sites to the eyes of policy makers.

The brains and muscle behind the Soil Kitchen have high hopes of greening our ever-growingcityscapes and bringing local produce to the tables of people that rarely experience fresh food.  “Urban farming is particularly vibrant, because it is so visible.  A lot of our farming happens outside the city so we don’t see the process, but urban farming you can walk by on a daily basis.”  This idea of bringing local opportunity to the immediate eye, sounds to me like the most logical and appealing method.  With cities continuing to grow and goods continuing to further themselves from our central populations, the need to find solutions is becoming ever important.  Incorporating ideas from cities surrounding farmland into the cityscape itself is going to be an important avenue of exploration in the near future.

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Exploration of the food blogosphere

The three blogs I visited and was interested in are food blogs that don’t only pertain to a cookbook style collection of recipes, but rather reaches past this traditional form and brings the cultural aspects of food into light.  Incorporating life stories, travel, personal interest, etc. not only makes the blogs more appealing to a wider variety of readers, but also makes the connection to food outside of recipes.  People are not always looking for something to make, and by providing things other than cooking instructions allows them to connect on much deeper and meaningful level.  Incorporating pictures along with posts is also something I have found to be very important in maintaining a successfully blog.  Eye catching images that not only are relevant to your posts, but also further explain the point you are trying to get across helps please the reader.  With a diversified post collection, including restaurant reviews, personal experiences and interests, as well recipes, a selection of pertinent and well taken photos, and a unique take on food and food culture the author can attract much more than your classic recipe junkie and can create a lifestyle blog that is based around the central theme of food.

1) Penny De Los Santos

This blog follows the travels and food experiences of Penny De Los Santos, a professional photographer who created this blog to share her cultural experiences with others.  Penny mixes cultural experiences with food experiences, creating a connection between her travels and her appetite.  I think this blog creates good discussion because it does more than post recipes it creates a story behind the food.  Penny provides great narratives of her travels and food experiences paired with even better photos.  Because her expertise is photography, she is able to capture images that are intriguing and relevant.  The only thing I don’t like about the blog is the bland page set up.  A white background with a common black font does not do much for pleasing the eye.

2) La Buena Vida

La Buena Vida is a great blog combining different food experiences into one blog.  She combines stories, recipes, travel adventures, and tons of great pictures to not only intrigue those with cooking interest but also attract visitors who have other interests.  The blog follows the bloggers life, throughout her different interests all documented through her photography.  I like the combination of text to accompany her photos as well as her diverse subject matter that still pertains to her main theme of food.  Her traveling stories and pictures are often times based around food adventure, indulging in local food gems.  Also I like her giveaways.  These keep visitors coming back, which keeps her reading population high.  I do not however like how zoomed in her page is, you can se only parts of the story at a time.

3)  A Thinking Stomach

A Thinking Stomach is blog that revolves around the bloggers life.  Although not every post is about food, she keeps recipes and food experiences consistent throughout her postings.  She shares information about life, personal experiences, life lessons, recipes, and food information.  This makes following this blog way more than just a source of recipes, it is instead a source to gain general information and keeps readers interested in checking back no matter what they are looking for.  Keeping blog posts interesting while still keeping it new and original allows a diverse selection of bloggers to gain and interest and continue to check in.  This blog shows that food in the media does not necessarily only pertain to recipes, but instead can involve gardening, seasonality of certain plants, and food knowledge.  The intended audience is most likely people that are involved in the food lifestyle, gardeners, cooks, and other such participants.  I like the variety of knowledge that A Thinking Stomach shares.  It is cool to check back not knowing what to expect next.  The thing I don’t like is that she doesn’t document her recipes with pictures.  She takes such great photos for her other posts, but recipes don’t typically have the same pictures, which is hard to want to try them.  Also she does not categorize her posts.  Most other blogs allow you to visit all similar posts thru a menu on the side, but not this one.

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