Saturday, August 27, 2016

Farm Service Agency Head Visits NYC Farms



You wouldn’t think there would be much reason for the head of the Farm Service agency to go to New York City.

But there he was — the national administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency — touring farms in Brooklyn and the South Bronx.

Val Dolcini was interested in seeing what is going on in urban agriculture in hopes of working with the USDA to develop a variety of new tools to support urban farmers. 

The discussions from this trip to New York City will help the USDA better understand the unique challenges urban agriculture faces, as it looks to expand its capacity to better serve and meet the needs of farmers in urban areas, Dolcini said.

While in New York City, Dolcini saw crops being grown on the rooftop at the Brooklyn Navy yard. He saw community gardens filled with crops in little nooks and crannies in the city. He saw families finding little areas of soil near their apartments planting food they could eat all summer and fall.

“There is 65,000 square feet of space on the roof of the Brooklyn Navy Yard with a dozen or so Mom and Pop operations,” Dolcini said. 

He said people in the city grow for themselves and also sell their produce at farm stands or even through CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture), in which people buy shares of the farm operation in return for some of the bounty of the farm.

He said during his tour of New York City, he found people growing all types of greens, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, root vegetables and cut flowers.

“There are lots of opportunities for farming in New York City,” Dolcini said.

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