Rows of vegetation are popping up between the apartment buildings of East New York in a community farm program which assists the community to grow fresh, organic fruit and vegetables – to improve their access to healthy produce.
In this low-income Brooklyn neighborhood, the East New York Farms project is developing a network of urban farms and vegetable patches in response to very high levels of obesity and the lack of access to nutritious, tasty and affordable food. In addition, it provides local youth with a positive and constructive activity, other than hanging around on the streets.
Statistics taken from the 2006 ‘Take Care New York’ profile has shown that in the boroughs of East New York and New Lots, three out of 10 adults were defined as obese, and ran double the risk of suffering from diabetes compared with other people across the rest of Brooklyn and New York City as a whole.
Markets have been organized across different parts of the city and volunteers at the Saturday farmers’ market in East NY have said that these stalls usually have 500 to 600 local customers.
John Ameroso of Cornell University’s Cooperative Extension – NYC Programs, an expert on agriculture, has shown his support for the urban farms, stating that ‘The advantage is that the food can be harvested and be eaten almost immediately … It’s going to be fresher and more nutritious.’
When commenting on the benefits of this scheme, farm intern Michael Regalado, 14, said, ‘Most of the foods in supermarkets have to be transported. And as gas prices go up, so do the prices of produce, to pay for the transportation of the produce. Down here, the only transportation that we do is from the farm down to the kitchen’.
Daily News Brooklyn