Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Menu of Food Initiatives in PlaNYC


New York City's PlaNYC 2030, released in 2007, was roundly criticized by advocates of sustainable food systems because it was silent on food production, processing, distribution, or disposal.  On April 21, 2011, Mayor Bloomberg released updated PlaNYC, which introduces the topic of food as a cross-cutting issue.  There are references to food throughout the document, particularly in discussions of what constitutes sustainable neighborhoods and in reference to specific initiatives like community- and school gardens and composting programs. 

For a complex issue like food, it is a bit surprising that only two of the plan's 198 pages are actually devoted to food. By comparison, Minneapolis just completed a major urban agriculture plan that augments its comprehensive plan, and Chicago's regional plan has an entire chapter devoted to food systems. The City Council's own FoodWorks is a comprehensive 90-page policy plan.   

To those of us engaged in food policy, most of the initiatives in PlaNYC will sound familiar. And, unlike a proper food system plan, PlaNYC does not articulate a comprehensive vision of a sustainable food system. It does not explain how the discrete pieces fit together and how food relates to other agency plans, like the City's Solid Waste Management Plan or DEP's recently released Sustainable Stormwater Management Plan. And with the exception of the farms in our watershed, the food elements are entirely focused on the five boroughs, ignoring our role within the foodshed.

As a quick reference to the initiatives in PlaNYC that relate to the food system -- and a checklist to review the city's progress -- I've compiled the following chart.



Issue
Agency
Commitment
Page
Deadline
Planning

Launch an online platform, “Change By Us,” to “empower New Yorker to self-organize around issues that matter to them” including gardens.
27
none
Planning

We are working to better understand how we can improve the distribution of food into and around the city. As a first step, we will work with the City Council to analyze our foodshed and evaluate the environmental effects of our food systems.
165
none
Foodshed

We will continue to support economic activity—like sustainable agriculture with partners including the Watershed Agricultural Council—that can be undertaken in a way that protects the city’s watershed.
79
none
Foodshed

We will also continue our partnership with the Watershed Agricultural Council to promote sustainable farming techniques that limit the amount of fertilizer and other waste products that run into our reservoirs.
81
none
Foodshed
DEP
Work with the State to secure the prohibition of hydrofracking within the city’s watersheds.
188
2013
Urban Agriculture

We will target high-impact projects in the neighborhoods with the greatest open space needs. These projects will include community gardens and urban agriculture opportunities, which enrich many of the city’s neighborhoods least served by parks.
35
none
Urban Agriculture

We are committed to promoting community gardens and other forms of urban agriculture. We recognize the important role they serve in building communities, supporting local cultural heritage, and bringing individuals together around the vital issue of access to healthy food.
37
none
Urban Agriculture
NYCHA
NYCHA will also expand its urban agriculture program, creating at least one urban farm.
37
none
Urban Agriculture
NYC BCP
We will design protective measures such as liners for state-of-the-art community gardens on remediated brownfield properties. We will work with GreenThumb and the New York Restoration Project to pilot a community garden on a remediated brownfield site.
57
none
Urban Agriculture
DPR
study to id potential urban agriculture or community garden sites on city-owned properties unsuitable for other development
182
2013
Urban Agriculture
NYCHA
plant 129 new community gardens on NYCHA sites
182
2013
Urban Agriculture
DPR
increase number of community volunteers registered with GreenThumb by 25%
182
2013
Urban Agriculture
DPR
expand support for community gardens into new underserved neighborhoods
182
2013
Urban Agriculture
Mayor’s Fund/ DOE
register 25 new school gardens with Grow to Learn NYC per year, and retain 75% of registered school gardens year to year
182
2013
Urban Agriculture
DCP/ DOB/ DPR
reduce impediments to agriculture in relevant laws and regulations
183
2013
Food Processing

We will graduate 25 new businesses from [E-Space] and an additional 40 at La Marqueta, so that food entrepreneurs can bring healthy food and economic development to neighborhoods throughout the city.
29
none
Distribution

Before we can increase the efficiency of our food- related freight movement and reduce its impacts on congestion, and improve residents’ access to food, we need to better understand what New Yorkers eat, where it comes from, how it gets to the city, and where it ultimately gets delivered.
97
none
Distribution

We will … work to shift inbound freight from trucks to rail and increase rail capacity into the city. The Hunts Point Terminal Produce Market, located at the FDC, presents an opportunity to expand the use of freight trains to supplement trucks for incoming shipments. As part of a potential redesign currently under negotiation, we will work to maximize inbound rail market share.
97
none
Food Access

We will also ensure that our housing and neighborhoods become more sustainable. Sustainability means more energy-efficient buildings, walkability, the availability of transportation choices, employment opportunities, and access to retail, including healthy food.
23
none
Food Access

We have begun and will complete a study in East New York, Brooklyn, where, working in close cooperation with the Community Board and other local stakeholders, including the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, we will generate recommendations for land use and zoning changes, and assess other opportunities for making the neighborhood greener. The study will also incorporate efforts to pro- mote public health through improved access to fresh food by seeking to utilize the City’s FRESH (Food Retail Expansion to Support Health) pro- gram and build on the efforts of local groups such as East New York Farms.
27
none
Food Access

Opportunities exist to use existing food distribution infrastructure, like bodegas and food carts, and the City’s regulatory powers to increase access to healthy foods. In partnership with the City Council, we are developing and implementing programs to provide low-cost temporary solutions, while encouraging the development of more permanent markets.
28
none
Food Access

Through the Healthy Bodegas initiative, more than 1,000 bodegas have promoted the sale of fresh produce and low-fat dairy products, increasing sales of these products to local residents. The Green Carts program has issued almost 500 new permits to street vendors selling fresh fruit and vegetables in underserved neighborhoods, quickly and effectively expanding retail options. By augmenting the federal food stamp program (SNAP) with “Health Bucks,” we are providing SNAP recipients with $2 in coupons for every $5 in SNAP spent at farmers markets. More than 110,000 Health Bucks were distributed in 2009, generating an additional $220,000 in sales of fresh, locally grown fruit and vegetables.
28
none
Food Access
DCP
Identify additional amendments to zoning to facilitate grocery stores in communities with food access needs.
182
2013
Food Access
EDC
Facilitate 300 more food retail and production opportunities on City-owned spaces in underserved areas
182
2013
Food Access
DPR
Establish five additional farmers markets at community garden sites
182
2013
Residuals Management

We will launch the Greener, Greater Communities approach to help community- and neighborhood-based organizations develop and implement local initiatives. This includes projects to manage stormwater, improve energy efficiency, establish community composting resources, create new public space, and enhance the stewardship of parks.
27
none
Residuals Management

We will work with the city’s 24,000 restaurants and food-related businesses to identify and adopt practices that reduce waste.
138
none
Residuals Management

We will develop new recognition and award programs or build on existing models such as LEED and the Green Res- taurant Association to incentivize businesses and institutions to expand recycling and use recycled and recyclable materials.
139
none
Residuals Management

We will expand outreach and education efforts, benchmark and quantify current community- based composting efforts, and work with community and government partners to increase the number of available drop-off locations for food waste. In addition, we will launch a grant program for small-scale composting to encourage diversion of food waste.
140
none
Residuals Management

To capture the roughly 4% of residential waste made up of leaf and yard trimmings, we will rein- state leaf and yard waste collection for composting in the city. This will create a high-quality soil product for use by City agencies and non-profits in parks and natural resource programs.
140
none
Residuals Management

We will also expand composting of leaf and grass clippings generated by our City parks. Specifically, we will install one small-scale composting unit in each borough. We will also expand the use of mowing equipment that mulches leaves and other organic matter so that nutrients seep into the soil.
141
none
Residuals Management

The City piloted curbside collection for organics in the early 1990’s and found that while it did increase diversion rates in lower-density neighborhoods, it was not a cost-effective collection method. Since 20 years have passed, we will reexamine this issue and complete a new study to determine the feasibility of curbside organics recycling.
141
2012
Residuals Management

We will pursue the establishment of an on-site organics recovery facility at the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center.
141
none
Residuals Management

We will promote commercial organics recovery as part of our proposed business recognition and award program to encourage sustainable solid waste management practices.
142
none
Residuals Management

We will continue to evaluate pilots of new [dewatering] technologies and encourage businesses and institutions to adopt them as a means to increase diversion rates.
142
none
Residuals Management

We will pursue sustainable and economical opportunities to process and market sludge for beneficial reuse through pilot projects and partnerships with utilities and private investors
142
none
Residuals Management
DSNY/ OLTPS
Expand opportunities for communities to compost food waste
195
2013
Residuals Management
DSNY/ DPR
Expand leaf and yard waste composting
195
2013
Residuals Management
DCAS/ DEP
Encourage use of new technologies to increase recovery of commercial food waste
195
2013
Residuals Management
EDC/ DSNY/ OLTPS
Pursue on-site food recovery facility at the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center
195
2013
Residuals Management
DEP/ BIC/ DSNY
Encourage in-city opportunities to recover yellow grease and convert it to biofuel.
195
2013

Agency acronyms:
DEP: Department of Environmental Protection
NYCHA: NYC Housing Authority
NYC BCP: NYC Brownfield Cleanup Program
DPR: Department of Parks and Recreation
DOE: Department of Education
DCP: Department of City Planning
DOB: Department of Buildings
EDC: Economic Development Corporation
DSNY: Department of Sanitation NY
OLTPS: Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability
DCAS: Department of Citywide Administrative Services
BIC: Business Integrity Commission

3 comments:

  1. Dear Nevin,

    I'm sorry to approach you in a comment on a very interesting, but unrelated post, I could not find your contact details elsewhere.

    You've recently commented on the Cityfarmer article about Polydome, and I have taken the liberty to respond and follow up regarding your concerns. You state that one of the statistics for Polydome is 'preposterous'. That is something that we regret, of course, since we take great care in our work and, just like yourself, are working towards more sustainable development. We feel Polydome is a great addition to the arsenal of tools available to us in the field, and have therefore given away the report for free, and we would like to make sure that we're properly understood and that mistakes have not been made.

    If you'd like to follow up to discuss the issue, please contact me, tom at the domain except.nl, so we can show you where our figures come from.

    Regards, Tom Bosschaert
    Director Except Integrated Sustainability

    ReplyDelete
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