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HERBANISM Irene Barber Larry Bowne and Susan Henderson Syracuse University Spring 2011

TABLE OF CONTENTS The Contention Precedents


Private Activity for Personal Use Private Activity for Distribution Public Activity for Demonstration Public Activity for Community Service

3 7




Conclusion Thesis Work Bibliography

33 39 49

I believe the city should own tracts of land for the growing of vegetables and fruits, where the citizens can see and understand that their real existence comes out of Mother Earth, and that the merchant or peddler is only a means of delivery. -Jens Janson “A Greater West Park System�


Food Nutrition



Highest to Lowest Iron

Not Provided


Vitamin C

Vitamin A Lowest

Lowest to Highest Sodium

Total Fat



THE CONTENTION Poor neighborhoods, as food deserts, lack adequate access to fresh produce. A community center where members can grow and sell food would provide a safe place for inner-city youth to congregate after school, educate families about fresh produce, and provide access to such food. Cities, which constitute only a fraction of the world’s surface, are home to approximately 50% of the earth’s population. According to Dickson Despommier, a professor in microbiology at Columbia University, in 40 years only about 20% of all the people in the world will live outside of cities. In the coming years, there will be a great need to find more space to provide sustenance for the expected additional 3 billion people. Presently, many dense urban areas lack adequate access to produce. In these areas, supermarkets are scarce and far between, however fast food restaurants abound. These food deserts lack sufficient availability of nutritional food and encourage poor eating habits. There is a direct correlation between food deserts and economically depressed districts. A decision has to be made by residents between the cost of traveling to supermarkets outside of their neighborhood and the ability to save money by purchasing cheaper alternatives, such as fast food. Food deserts are caused by the lack or inadequacy of three different accesses. Physical access refers to the actual location of a supermarket as well as the accessibility of the store itself for the handicapped. Convenience is a large factor in one’s decision-making

process when it comes down to choosing where to get food, unfortunately in food deserts fast food restaurants are more convenient location wise and are thus more often frequented. Financial access is determined by the price of the food offered, the expense of traveling to the location, and the means to cook the food. Even if one would be willing to travel the distance, it still costs money to get there if one has to drive or take public transportation. Mental access is the cognitive attitude towards nutrition. One may not have a sufficient knowledge of cooking or believe that eating nutritionally is important. There is no reason for supermarkets to be located in an area where there is no demand for one. Food deserts do not have these three accesses. Supermarkets are either too far away to be considered convenient or the nutritional food they sell is not reasonably priced. Fast food presents itself as the more rational choice because it is more convenient and affordable. An understanding of food and nutrition, however, would change one’s perspective on what was a better decision. The integration of agriculture into the urban setting would increase the physical, financial, and mental access. Growing food in or near a food desert literally brings food closer to the residents. There is nothing

FOOD DESERT An area with little or no access to nutritional food but often abundant in fast food restaurants. PHYSICAL ACCESS The availability of fresh produce, the accessibility of the stores, and the location of the stores. FINANCIAL ACCESS The cost of fresh produce, the expense to travel to the stores, and the ownership of a kitchen. MENTAL ACCESS A knowledge about nutrition and a regards to its importance.


Fig. 1 Agribusiness as depicted by Robert Kenner’s Food Inc.

fresher than a piece of fruit or vegetable picked right off of the vine. Grown so locally would also greatly reduce the cost of transporting the produce. Lessening travel time cuts down the price, not to mention the amount of carbon emissions caused by transportation that will be reduced. Just the exposure of the food process itself will create an interest in fresh produce. A local farm would allow the community to participate in the growing process and therefore would teach the residents about nutrition and the value of eating healthy. Before one starts to plan an urban farm, however, one has to understand the different kinds of farms. While all farms grow food, their intentions may be different. Farms can be divided into four

types: private activity for personal use, private activity for distribution, public activity for demonstration, and public activity for community service. Private activity for personal use serves first and foremost to provide food for the owner. These farms are generally small in scale and are entirely dependent on the individual’s will and ability to carry out gardening techniques. Private activity for distribution is perhaps the most common way we view farms. Run like a business, this type of farm operates primarily as a means of generating income. Unfortunately, it is common for these farms to take the business side to be more important than the actual food side of the process.

PRIVATE ACTIVITY FOR PERSONAL USE Meant for an individual or group’s specific use. PRIVATE ACTIVITY FOR DISTRIBUTION Privately owned farm meant for the retail of food to others. 4

Fig. 2 Community garden

Agribusiness, as this practice has been called, has become disconnected from the more wholesome view society has. Nonetheless, private activity for distribution farms allows the individual to benefit from someone else’s labor in producing the food. The two types of public farms are similar in their organization. Both often rely on volunteer services in order for the farms to run, and both are typically smaller in scale. Public activity for demonstration typically emphasizes the educational aspect of the facility over the production of the food. It is not so much about growing enough food to provide physical and financial access; rather it serves to primarily impart mental access.

Public activity for community service, on the other hand, offers a place for people in need to work. Volunteers come in to organize the process while members of the community could be given the opportunity to work. These public types of farms depend highly on the involvement of the community and opportunity to help those involved. A garden that involves the community in its production process provides the three accesses discussed. Allowing the community to help grow the food would also convey the sense that what the garden provides is a handout. When offering assistance, it is important to not forget about pride; not only would allowing the community to participate in the garden generate an interest in fresh produce and nutrition, but it would also permit the members to feel as if they worked for it instead of just taking charity. In food deserts especially, where the majority of the residents have minimum means, charity can seem like an insult, and thus enabling the residents to take part would lessen the offence. Most cities in the United States of America have, to a certain extent, areas that can be considered food deserts. Chicago and Detroit are the most notable and often publicized examples, however instances can be found in many other major cities. Poorer neighborhoods tend to have higher crime rates, and non-local business owners do not generally want to risk opening shop there. Large corporations, such as McDonalds and other fast food chains, seize the opportunity to purchase a storefront with low rent and begin to populate the neighborhood. These larger companies can take the risk because they have such a strong financial backing that they can afford to wait it out while

AGRIBUSINESS Term used to describe food producers who are primarily focused on the business over the food. PUBLIC ACTIVITY FOR DEMONSTRATION Primarily meant for the education of food production. PUBLIC ACTIVITY FOR COMMUNITY SERVICE Provides jobs to the community as well as food.


Fig. 3 Vacant apartment towers in Brownsville, Brooklyn.


their presence in the community is established. As fast food restaurants become more commonplace, the food they offer becomes more desirable because they are more physically accessible and conveniently priced. In New York City, Brownsville of Brooklyn is one such food desert. Located near Crown Heights, Bedford-Stuyvesant and the border of Queens, Brownsville is in the heart of New York’s outer boroughs. The neighborhood has one of the highest crime rates in the entire city and is one of the poorest as well. Approximately a third of the population is below the age of 18, all of who are at a high crime risk (Census Bureau). The majority of the residents (87.5%) are African American and 41% of the entire population is either unemployed or not in the labor market (meaning that they are retired, not looking for work, or not working for a legal job). Typical of a food desert, Brownsville has an abundance of fast food restaurants but very few adequate grocery stores. There are several corner stores, however they primarily offer processed foods and very little, if any, fresh fruits and vegetables. While the grocery stores have only a few people in them at any

given time, there is always a steady influx of customers entering several of the fast food restaurants. Nutritional food is not physically accessible and the neighborhood’s residents’ regard for nutrition is minimal. If people do not view health and nutrition as important, the physical access to fresh produce does not matter. In order for the availability of produce to reach its full potential, there needs to be a desire and an understanding of why healthy food is essential for good living. If a garden is to be introduced into this neighborhood, an educational component will be critical to its success. A kitchen where community members can learn about cooking would be one such way residents could learn about nutrition. The garden would become a community center where the people of the neighborhood could grow their own food, help in the growing of food for local stores, prepare meals for their families and other members of the community, and sell their cooking creations. Children would be provided with recreation facilities to promote exercise and through after school activities and day camps would be encouraged to participate in the gardening process. By bringing the youth off of the street, the community center would help reduce their risk for crime and their exposure to fresh produce would bring new knowledge back home to their families. By creating a space for the community to participate in the growth of fruits and vegetables and the preparation of food, Seeds of Hope would provide the three accesses that Brownsville, as a food desert, lacks. The center would offer physical access through the growth and distribution of fruits and produces both directly to its members as well as to local grocery stores. With limited transportation expenses, the actual cost of the food will be lessened, thus the financial access increases. Lastly, by exposing the process and involving the community in the production will raise mental access and create an interest in nutritional food.









2000+ ACRES


1000-1499 ACRES

500-999 ACRES

100-499 ACRES


0-99 ACRES















Urban agriculture has been promoted in many different ways throughout history. Private gardens were used during the depression and World War II in order to support individual families, roof gardens emerged as a means of growing food in densely populated cities and allowing for the sale of such food, schools with small gardens emerged to start educating their students, and community gardens popped up in poor neighborhoods to stimulate work and promote good living. Each type (the Private Activity for Personal Use, Private Activity for Distribution, Public Activity for Demonstration, and Public Activity for Community Service) displayed their own solutions for the problem of growing food in a crowded, sometimes polluted en-

vironment. Issues of land type, size, program, and public access immediately become an issue. While some promote community involvement, others require that the community stay out during production (private farms). While some can take advantage of potentially polluted sites (brownfields), others must use clean sites (greenfields or even greyfields) due to the fact that they must be responsible for what gets sold. Each type has its own requirements and opportunities. With each type of farm comes opportunity and restraint.

BROWNFIELD An abandoned industrial site that is available for re-use. May contain environmental contaminants. GREENFIELD A site that is being used as a farm, landscape, or left naturally and is considered for urban development. GREYFIELD An outdated, failing, and/or under utilized site. Commonly left with empty buildings.



Fig. 4 Massachusetts Victory Garden

In an effort to get fresh produce, some may turn to individual farming techniques. Methods of such production range from small window boxes/fixtures to living-community farms. Some rely on the leftovers of others; instead of growing their own food, they put an effort to collect otherwise discarded food. No matter the scale or means of obtaining food, the practice of “private activity for personal use� promotes a selfmotivated mode of farming/gathering. The individual can produce what he/she needs and wants and thus increases their financial and physical access to this food. The freshness of what they eat is determined by their own determination. The practice is the most flexible in terms of where it can be located in terms of greenfield, brownfield, and greyfield sites and generally does not require a great abundance of land. Producing for the individual is suitable for those who have a personal interest in organic food, however one must have the time and resources to maintain the garden. 8

During World War II, the United States government issued food rations to the civilians in order to ease the strain on natural resources (Nordahl 17-18). To accompany these rations, the government supported the creation of home gardens, or Victory Gardens. These gardens (fig. 4) would be cultivated and maintained by the individual household and would, generally, feed the same household. The amount a family could produce depended on the amount of land available to them as well as the number of people available to maintain it. The Victory Gardens served as more than just sources for food; they stirred a sense of confidence in the people, as they were able to provide for themselves with their own hands. The civilians did not have the feeling of solely relying on the government to provide for them, and so individualist pride remained intact. Located outside of Saint Charles, Missouri, New Town (fig. 5) was designed by Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company (DPZ) as an alternative to the typical subur-

VICTORY GARDEN Home gardens that emerged in during World War II that served to feed individual households.

Fig. 5 Site Plan for New Town by Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co.

Fig. 6 The Gleaners by Jean-Francois Millet, 1857

ban model. The leader of the “New Urbanismâ€? movement, AndrĂŠs Duany and his partners are experts in dealing with issues of urban sprawl as well as appropriate zoning for various population densities. Their plan for New Town not only specified housing arrangements, but included subdivisions for food production as well. An organic farm was situated in the community to provide access to fresh produce. The food would primarily be sold to the community, however leftover crops would be available for gleaning. The farm would be run by members of the community and served as a collective space for food production. Individual residential properties were given space that could be used for personal gardening and food growth. DPZ created a town that was not only capable of providing entertainment amenities, but a means of food production as well. A tradition that has been practiced for centuries, gleaning (fig. 6) is the practice of gathering food from fields that have already been harvested by their farm-

ers. Typically the exercise of gleaning is looked down upon because it relies on others to produce the food and conveys a sense of being given a handout. Despite the stigma, gleaning greatly reduces the amount of wasted food. Only food that is blemish free and otherwise aesthetically pleasing generally gets harvested and sent to the supermarkets. The rest of the food, despite its appearance, is still edible and so allowing people to come and collect it provides a source of fresh produce that would otherwise not be affordable to these people. Gleaning has been practiced more recently not only by people looking for free food, but also by restaurant owners looking to save some money in a highly competitive business. Although produced by another person, gleaning is a private act for personal use because it is up to the individual to travel to the farm/garden himself and collect what is left over. If they do not do this, the food would stay where it was and become fertilizer for the next harvest.

GLEANING The act of collecting crops leftover from commercial farming.



Fig. 7 Farmer’s Market in Union Square, New York City

The most common form of farming is the practice of producing and then selling the results. The whole agricultural business is based on the idea of a farmer who produces and sells his product to everyone else. The size of such farms range from below 100 acres to over 2,000 acres. Urban examples of farms meant for distribution have to adapt to the limited amount of horizontal space. Accordingly, many potential plans for such facilities offer vertical solutions or are located on roofs. Considering the typically grand scale of such a project, it is necessary to take advantage of whatever land one can find. The kind of land that can be used, however, needs to be considered since what is produced will be sold to the general public. Such a project in a city, despite the limitations on size, would be able to provide a vast amount of citizens with fresh produce and its location would offer an increased physical, financial, and mental access towards fresh produce.

Very popular these days, farmers markets are found in practically every city in the United States (fig. 7). Farmers from the surrounding areas truck in and sell their produce often at makeshift sites. Frequently sites are designated as places for these markets to occur and so it is only a means of assembling a tent or stand and breaking it down at the end of the day. Other sites provide booths for vendors to come in and display their produce. Regardless of the temporality of the location, farmers markets offer a place for people to purchase food that has been locally grown and thus has required less transportation to reach its destination (the average distance from farm to supermarket is 1,500 miles). Located in visible places, farmers markets make it easy to obtain fresh produce and make its presence known. Taking the idea of a green roof to the next level, Ben Flanner and Annie Novak (the overseers of the

GREEN ROOF A roof planted with vegetation, most often used as a sustainable building technique.


Fig. 8 Greensboro, Brooklyn, Rooftop Farm

Fig. 9 Gotham Greens Roof Farm by Viraj Puri and Eric Haley

farm), along with Chris Goode, located a willing industrial warehouse on Eagle Street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, to host a rooftop farm (fig. 8). Flanner and Novak had been inspired by similar projects in their hometowns of Milwaukee and Chicago. Goode, himself, had designed several green roofs in New York City, including his own. Measuring at 6,000 square feet, the farm grows over 30 types of vegetables, fruits, flowers, and herbs. The workforce consists of volunteers who eagerly show up to help out. The team is open to visitors who are curious as to how the roof farm works. The food grown is delivered by bicycle to local restaurants and venders, offering the community local produce. Combining Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) techniques and unique energy saving techniques, Gotham Greens (fig. 9)is building New York City’s first commercial scale greenhouse farm. Located on a 15,000 square foot rooftop, the farm will

produce over 30 tons of pesticide-free vegetables, fruits, and herbs through hydroponic growing techniques. The company’s brand will establish stores throughout the city in order to sell its produce, which will also be available to local restaurants and farmers markets. Founded in 2008 by Viraj Puri and Eric Haley, the Gotham Greens rooftop farm was dedicated to producing top-notch quality fruits and vegetables for local consumption, thus reducing the amount of fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions associated with most transportation methods.

HYDROPONICS A method of growing plants that uses mineral solutions in water without the use of soil.



Fig. 10 First Lady helping with the White House’s Victory Garden

As awareness and interest in urban farming spreads, public demonstrations of how agriculture can be used in a city environment have become common. With their primary objective being to educate people about farming practices and the importance of fresh produce, these projects are generally small in scale an can be located on many various sites. Some serve as temporary installations at museums while others were established with the hope to be a more permanent fixture. Even though these types of farms do not produce great amounts of produce, the information they provide to the populous. Without knowledge about nutrition, where food comes from and how it is made, it is hard to make a decision when it comes time. One can see the cheap option provided by fast food restaurants and the generally more expensive option given to fresh produce can seem unappetizing. Providing education about these issues can help bring awareness and provide the means to make a wiser de12

cision when faced with a choice at the supermarket. As two of the most influential and exposed people in the United States, the President and his wife are prime to demonstrate new ideas and educate the citizens of the country about important issues (Nordahl 148). In an effort to encourage healthy eating habits and educate about the values of growing one’s own produce, Michelle Obama started a Victory Garden of her own (fig. 10). The majority of the time, Michelle Obama is not the one maintaining the farm, however its location in their yard gives off the impression of their concern about this issue. The garden is meant to provide food for the Obama’s kitchen, however, as a demonstration tool, it is much more effective. The Gary Comer Youth Center (fig. 11), designed by John Ronan Architects, offers a place for students of South Side Chicago to spend their after-school hours. Primarily the home for the drill team of the South Shore School, the center’s focus lies in providing educational,

Fig. 11 Gary Comer Youth Center, Chicago, by John Ronan

Fig. 12 Food Chain, Los Angeles, by Robin Osler

recreational, and performance space. The roof is no exception to this concept. A garden construction on the roof provides an area for the youth to learn about fresh produce and to learn how to tend and maintain plants. Chicago, especially the South Side, is known for having vast food deserts, and so the introduction into the importance of fresh produce is vital for the community. If the children are taught to appreciate the quality and nutritional values of fresh produce, the demand for access to such resources will become stronger. Designed by Robin Osler, the Food Chain (fig. 12) built upon existing city fabric. Using sedum walls, the plants are able to grow along walls and winds along a neighborhood of Los Angeles. The purpose of the wall is two-fold: the food chain serves as a means to grow food for an economically suppressed neighborhood, and kitchens serve as places for people to learn how to cook the food they are able to get from the wall. Located right

at street level, the food is readily available for anyone to come up and take. The prominence of the sedum walls produce an interest in the passers-by and anyone interested in learning techniques of preparing food grown along the chain is encouraged to enter the kitchen.

SEDUM WALL Wall made of the plant, sedum. Sedum is commonly used on green roofs.



Fig. 13 New Roots Farm, Kansas City, Missouri

Fig. 14 Common Good Community Farm, Washington DC

Similar to the public farms discussed before, community service farms offer a place for demonstration as well as a modest amount of produce. These farms, however, also offer jobs to members of the community. These gardens are usually located on small plots of land, however they can be larger if the means and resources are available. Generally these types of farms do not require a lot of land because they serve primarily to produce food for the immediate community. More than just providing a means of demonstration, the community service farm provides a place for work for those who need it. Some are volunteer based and their output is more of a sense of community as they are invited to participate in the production. Outside of Kansas City, the New Roots farm (fig. 13) produces food for the city. The farm provides jobs for female refugees, immigrants and the jobless. New Roots serves the community not only by producing food,

but by providing jobs to those in need. The New Roots farm gives back to its community by helping its members who would otherwise be without a job and allows them to provide a new life for themselves and their families in their new city. The women mostly come from Asian and African rural communities and are therefore familiar with food production. Moving from a poorer nation, often times it is hard to find a job one already has skills in, and so the availability of farming jobs to those who come from such a background provides the women refugees with a means of helping themselves adjust. Common Good Community Farm (fig 14), located in Washington DC, serves as a place for inner city youth to come work after school. The community garden provides a safe place for kids to come after school and also provides a modest amount of food for the community. With school programs commonly cut back through out the country, it is important to

COMMUNITY GARDEN Single piece of land gardened by a collective of people.


Fig. 15 Added Value Community Farm, Brooklyn, NY

find programs for school kids in order to keep them off the streets. The community garden serves to provide children with such a place. The students not only spend time helping out in the garden but they learn how to tend a garden and the importance of nutrition. A community garden originally based in Red Hook, Brooklyn, Added Value (fig. 15) offers a place for collective involvement. Similarly to Common Good, Added Value served as a place for students to spend time after school. The program hopes to inspire new leaders by creating an environment were youth are given the opportunity manage teams in the farm. The garden is more than just a tool to teach nutritional values; it also inspires confidence in the participants. The youth are given the opportunity to work in the associated farmers market and are given responsibilities that they may have not otherwise been able to have.


What one sees today when one visits a farmers market or organic food store are a large proportion of middle and upper class Americans. In part due to the higher price of organic items (financial access), fresh produce has become a luxury item. Not only are they priced higher, in many neighborhoods it requires a considerable amount of travel just to reach a supermarket that even sells fresh produce. In the eyes of someone who is counting every cent, one pear priced at 99 cents at the grocery store in the next neighborhood over is not equivalent to the hamburger that same dollar could buy you at the fast food place on the corner. There is an issue of availability, lack of adequate grocery stores, as well as an issue of cost. As the four types of farming discussed prior showed, there are many ways of bringing fresh produce into urban environments. While techniques such as gleaning and home gardening provide a self-sufficient solution, they are highly dependent on the individual’s ability and willingness to carry out the necessary gardening. When coming home from a busy day of work, one may not have the stamina or desire to do anymore work,


and having one’s own garden just would not be feasible. On the other hand, a private group that would grow and sell food to the community takes all of the work out of farming for the everyday city resident. One would just have to make a trip to the grocery store, which would be more convenient now that the farm is located near-by. The issue here, however, lies in the problem of mental access. Private farms leave out the involvement of the community, and without that involvement, many residents would be unaware of the benefits of the new farm. That is not to say that there would not be an increase in fresh produce consumption, however the private farm would simply be viewed as an outside business working in the neighborhood. Community involvement brings an interest amongst the residents. Not only would food be more readily available for a more reasonable price, but the members of the neighborhood would be able to participate in a process and gain a sense of contribution. Members would not be solely responsible for the outcome of the crop, but would not feel as if they are simply receiving charity.


Fig. 13 Vacant public housing tower. Fig. 14 Corner grocery store. Fig. 15 Closed corner grocery store

Prospect Plaza, Brownsville, Brooklyn. Above: North view. Below: South View.


City-Wide Health Demographics


Located in the North-East part of Brooklyn, Brownsville falls in the median range in terms of health. Diabetes and self-reported health levels are slightly higher than the city’s average, however physical activity and high blood pressure rates are somewhat less.

Ethnicity Demographics

In Brownsville, 87.5% of residents reported themselves as African-American or Black in 2000 (Census Bureau). Over 30% of the residents are considered to be living in poverty. 19

City-Wide Weight/Nutrition Demographics

Weight, Weight, Exercise, Exercise, Nutrition Nutrition && Diabetes Diabetes

CHSCHS 20092009 -3 -2

Diabetes ever Ate no fruits or vegetables yesterday

Obesity more than 10 blocks as transportation Walked/biked - 18.4% in the past8.4% month

3.8% -3.0% 8.4%- 8.5%

56.1%18.5% - 61.9% - 23.9% 62.0%24.0% - 67.8% - 30.2%

- 10.0% 8.5% -8.6% 11.2%

67.9%30.3% - 73.1% - 36.1% 73.2% - 88.1%

- 18.1% 17.6%12.1% - 24.5%

- 12.0% 11.3%10.1% - 17.5% Estimate be interpreted with caution. Estimate shouldshould be interpreted with caution.

*Percentages are age adjusted. *Percentages are age adjusted. Obesity is based on Body Mass Index (BMI), calculated from self-reported weight and height. A BMI of 30 or greater is classified as obese.

*Percentages are ageare adjusted. *Percentages age adjusted. Women who had diabetes only while pregnant are included in 'no' category.

Source:Source: NYC Community Health Health SurveySurvey 2009 2009 NYC Community BureauBureau of Epidemiology Services, NYC DOHMH of Epidemiology Services, NYC DOHMH

Source:Source: NYC Community Health Health SurveySurvey 2009 2009 NYC Community BureauBureau of Epidemiology Services, NYC DOHMH of Epidemiology Services, NYC DOHMH

Drinks one or more sugar-sweetened beverage per day Walked/biked more than 10 blocks as transportation - 25.1% in the past11.2% month 56.1%25.2% - 61.9% - 31.9%

62.0%32.0% - 67.8% - 38.3%

- 8.5% 8.4% -3.0% 18.4% - 10.0% 18.5%8.6% - 23.9% - 12.0% 24.0%10.1% - 30.2%

- 45.7% 67.9%38.4% - 73.1%

- 18.1% 30.3%12.1% - 36.1%

73.2% - 88.1%

Obesity Drinks one or more sugar-sweetened beverage per day

*Percentages are age adjusted.

Ate no fruits or vegetables yesterday

- 18.4% 11.2%8.4% - 25.1%

Includes sodas, iced tea, sports drinks, etc.

3.8% - 8.4%

- 23.9% 25.2%18.5% - 31.9%

8.5% - 11.2%

- 30.2% 32.0%24.0% - 38.3%

11.3% - 17.5%

- 36.1% 38.4%30.3% - 45.7%

17.6% - 24.5%

Estimate should be interpreted with caution (diabetes ever).

*Percentages are age adjusted.

Estimate should be interpreted with caution (ate no fruits or vegetables yesterday).

*Percentages are age adjusted. Obesity is determined by using respondents' Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI is calculated Women who had diabetes only while based on respondents' self-reported weight pregnant are included in 'no' category. and height. A BMI of 30 or greater is classified as obese. Obesity is based on Body Mass Index (BMI), calculated from self-reported weight and Includes sodas, iced tea, sports drinks, etc. height. A BMI of 30 or greater is classified as obese.

*Percentages are age adjusted.


Diabetes ever Obesity

New York City is not an obese city in comparison to the rest of the United States. Certain neighborhoods, however, do have higher rates. Around 30% of residents in Brownsville are considered obese and up to 17% say they did not eat a single fruit or vegetable the day before. Source:Source: NYC Community Health Health SurveySurvey 2009 2009 NYC Community BureauBureau of Epidemiology Services, NYC DOHMH of Epidemiology Services, NYC DOHMH

Source: NYC Community Health Survey 2009 Source: NYC Community Health Survey 2009 Bureau of Epidemiology NYC Services, DOHMH NYC DOHMH Bureau ofServices, Epidemiology

00% 0% 0% 0% %

Atlantic Ave

4 5 - Utica Ave

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L - Sutte

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Eastern Parkway

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2 3 - Utica Ave

e tlantic Av ACL-A


ork wY e N


C - Ralph Ave

Fulton St

A C - Rockaway A ve

Evergreen Cemetary

High School Middle School Elementary School Library

Youth Population 21

Evergreen Cemetary

Fulton St Atlantic Ave


Eastern Parkway

4 BLOCK RADIUS Fully stocked or Over 1,500 sqft


st Ea

ork wY e N

e Av

3 BLOCK RADIUS Mostly stocked or 350 sqft to 1,500 sqft

1 BLOCK RADIUS Partly stocked or Under 350 sqft

Evergreen Cemetary

Fulton St Atlantic Ave


Eastern Parkway

st Ea

ork wY e N

e Av


Youth Population 40-100% 30-40% 20-30% 10-20% 0-10%

% % % %

Youth Population

High School Middle School Elementary School Library

High School Middle School Elementary School Library

Youth Population

Income Levels

45,000-65,000 25,000-45,000 Below 25,000

Source: OASIS NYC Maps 2009 CUNY Graduate Center

Household Income

45,000-65,000 25,000-45,000 Below 25,000


Income Levels

Source: OASIS NYC Maps 2009 CUNY Graduate Center

Land Condition

forest grassland impervious

transportation parking parks industrial commercial institutional

NYCHA subsidized subsidized 1 + 2 family multi-family mixed-use vacant lot

Building Types

Source: OASIS NYC Maps 2009 CUNY Graduate Center

Land Use

NY sub 1+ mu mix vac

transportation parking parks industrial commercial institutional transportation parking parks industrial commercial institutional

Source: OASIS NYC Maps 2009 CUNY Graduate Center

NYCHA subsidized subsidized 1 + 2 family multi-family mixed-use vacant lot


Youth Who Have Physically Fought or Carried a Weapon in School

With one of the highest crime rates in New York City, Brownsville’s youth are not untouched by violence. In 2008, 549 children under the age of 16 were arrested in Brownsville (

By Race


By Grade

Source: SUNY Downstate Medical Center 2005

New York City, often considered one of the healthiest cities in the United States in terms of dietary health, is not immune from food deserts. Areas such as Brownsville, Brooklyn, that are economically depressed suffer from inaccessibility physically, financially, and mentally. Most of the grocery stores in the neighborhood do not provide fresh produce at all and are too small in themselves to provide for more than a city block or two. The fast food restaurants, however, do not lack in size and are more often frequented. There is a clear deficiency in the quality of access to fresh produce. Not only does Brownsville’s economic status affect its accessibility to nutritious food, but it also drives residents towards crime. Approximately 40% of the population of Brownsville do not hold jobs (Census Bureau). Gangs have taken over the streets

and offer those in need food, clothing, and shelter, especially to the youth (Barker). Without after school programs or other community involvement programs, the youth have become subject to the neighborhood’s gangs. With the promise of food, the young members feel as if they can help their families, disregarding the criminal and potentially lethal consequences. There are several schools in the neighborhood, including 4 that are within a 2 block radius of the proposed site. City buses connect much of Brownsville and offer a safe (at least safer) means of transportation rather than walking down the street. A center that offered the children and teenagers of the neighborhood a safe place to go after school would provide not only a safe-haven, but a place where they could learn about food and gardening as well.


From Atlantic Avenue and Fulton Street ACJL

56,678 sqft

103,121 sqft

Building Proposed Site Direction of Traffic


From Eastern Parkway and East New York Avenue 2345

Summer Solstice

30 minutes after dawn


30 minutes before sunset


30 minutes before sunset


30 minutes before sunset


30 minutes after dawn Winter Solstice

30 minutes after dawn



Vacant Lot

Empty Building


Work Grow Distribute



Seeds of Hope: A Community Garden to Feed You and Me

Food deserts in economically depressed neighborhoods are expanding. A community center where members can grow and sell food would provide a safe place for inner-city youth to congregate after school and provide access to fresh produce. Food sold to the community ($ for the garden + individual)


Individual prepares food

Individual produces own food

Community volunteers to help grow food

Food is available to the greater community



Food gets sold to local stores ($ for the garden)



s io ces at Ac Recre to


John Ronan’s Gary Comer Youth Center serves to bring the inner-city youth of South Side Chicago off of the streets and into his center. The teenagers arrive after school and participate in programs geared towards their school’s drill team. The roof garden is a demonstration piece and is secondary to the drill team. Seeds of Hope would put the garden as the primary focus of its after school program and its recreational facilities would be available for rainy days or weekends. The Common Good garden in Washington DC and Added Value’s farm in Red Hook, Brooklyn, both serve to provide places for local youths to come after school. They grow food for their communities and provide an interest amongst the children. Added Value also allows older students to lead teams and run the farm stand at the local market. It builds leadership skills and allows the teenagers to get an independent voice away from the overwhelming presence of local gangs.

A youth center in Brownsville would serve primarily to grow fruits and vegetables for the community, however it would also offer a place for students to come after school. Volunteers from the community would come in to run the garden and the youth would be able to assist in the growing process. While the children are at school, volunteer members would take care of the garden during the day. Run like a foodcooperative, members would be able to take home some of what they grow while the rest would be distributed to local grocery stores. Kitchens would serve as places for community members to come and learn how to cook and an adjacent market would provide a place where such foods could be sold in order to help benefit the center. The youth’s participation would be primarily as a means of educating them about nutrition and allowing them to leave with an interest that could be shared with their families at home.


Program Scale

































Program and Site

playground parking garden interior program interior garden

greenhouse handball basketball

community center

kitchen market indoor basketball/handball classrooms offices

exterior garden exterior program 35


In Brownsville, Brooklyn, a food desert in an economically depressed and crime ridden neighborhood, a community center where members can grow and sell food would provide a safe place for inner-city youth to meet after school, educate families about nutrition, and provide physical, financial and mental access to fresh produce.




Floor Plan: Shows gymnasium, classrooms, kitchens, and markets.


Top: Elevation along Prospect Place showing exterior market. Bottom: Section through interior market and kitchens.



Top: Section through classrooms and interior market. Bottom: Section through elevator and packaging facilities.



Top: Elevation along Saratoga Avenue. Bottom: Section through interior and exterior markets.



Top: Section through classrooms and farm. Bottom: Section through gymnasium.



BIBLIOGRAPHY “5 Urban Design Proposals for 3D City Farms: Sustainable, Ecological and Agricultural Skyscrapers.” Web Urbanist. 30 March 2008. 31 August 2010 <>. “5 Urban Design Proposals…” describe five different entries into the Vertical Farm Competition posed by Dickson Despommier. The projects use new technologies to create skyscrapers that implement farming techniques. Barker, Cyril J. “Brooklyn’s Bloody 2010: 61 Shootings, 76 Victims in Just 8 Months.” New America Media. New America Media, 16 Aug. 2010. 07 Dec. 2010 < brooklyn-61-shootings-76-victims-in-2010.php#>. Barker describes the conditions of Brownsville, Brooklyn as its violent crime rates rise. Berry, Wendell. Bringing it to the Table: on Farming and Food. Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2008. Introduced by Michael Pollen, Berry’s essays preceded the modern day writings of such authors as Pollen. Berry addresses the issues facing farmers with a focus on the tobacco industry.

Census Bureau Home Page. U.S. Census Bureau. 01 Dec. 2010 <>. Data about the nation’s people and economy. Despommier, Dickson. The Vertical Farm. 2009. 29 August 2010 <>. Dickson Despommier poses the problem of increasing city populations and demand for food. At the rate the human race is growing, our current resources will not be able to adequately feed the world’s population. He suggests the solution of farming vertically in cities to provide new spaces to grow food and sustain the increasing population. Engelhaupt, Erika. “Do Food Miles Matter?” Environmental Science &Technology. 16 May 2008: 3482. Erika Engelhaupt argues that looking at just the distance food travels is not enough to judge the environmental “friendliness” of produce. Engelhaupt suggests that one must also look at how the food is grown.

Food, Inc. Dir. Robert Kenner. Perf. Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser. Magnolia Pictures, 2009. DVD. Kenner’s movie looks into the negative effects to our health and environment of the food industry.


Gillette, Marianne. “Important Steps to Improve Product Tracing in Food Systems.” Food Technology. November 2009: 11-13. Marianne Gillette discusses the importance of tracing food along its transportation routes. She suggests that the knowledge of exactly where one’s food has been will provide better information about the quality of the produce itself. Howard, Ebenezer. Garden Cities of To-Morrow. London: Faber and Faber LTD, 1946. Ebenezer Howard investigates the qualities of cities, rural areas, and the mixture to see what it is that draws people to each of them. He goes on to create his plan for a new kind of city, or “the Garden City” in response to the industrial history of most major cities of the time. His new plan would reorganize the street structure and organize the city by program and include garden space. “Juvenile Arrests by Community District for Ages 16 and Under.” UJC New York City Neighborhood :: Crime Prevention Resource Center. New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. 07 Dec. 2010 <>. Provides juvenile crime statistics until 2008 when the NYSDCJS stopped collecting the data. Nordahl, Darrin. Public Produce. Washington: Island Press, 2009. Nordahl discusses urban projects that bring gardening or farming into the city. Osler, Robin. “Ideas + Action.” Syracuse Architecture Lecture Series. Syracuse University School of Architecture. Slocum Hall, Syracuse University. 21 September 2010. Robin Osler discussed four of the projects she worked on with her office, Elmslie Osler Architects. Her project, the Food Chain demonstrates a means of growing food in a dense urban environment. Pollan, Michael. The Omnivor’s Dilemma. New York: Penguin Books, 2006. Starting with the question, “what shall we have for dinner?” Pollen delves into what our food is and where it comes from. He explains the politics and practice of the modern day food industry. Royte, Elizabeth. “Street Farmer.” New York Times Magazine 1 July 2009. 21 September 2010 <http://>. Discussing the “good-food movement,” Elizabeth Royte follows the path Will Allen (an urban farmer in Milwaukee) takes as he starts and promotes his “Growing Power Farm.” Through her investigation into his work, Royte explains the need for local food production in areas that lack fresh produce.


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HERBANISM Irene Barber Syracuse University December 9, 2010 Larry Bowne and Susan Henderson


Herbanism, my thesis project for Syracuse University's School of Architecture, focuses on finding an architectural solution for food deserts...