Income inequality, racial residential segregation, and public disinvestment have led to health inequities among neighborhoods. In fact, your ZIP code can often reveal more about your health than your genetic code. Where you work, live, relax, play, and learn impact your health.
Unfortunately, in some high-poverty neighborhoods only one in 10 residents eats the nationally recommended servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
In 2016, the de Blasio administration launched the Building Healthy Communities (BHC) initiative to improve community health outcomes in 12 chronically underserved neighborhoods across New York City’s (NYC) five boroughs by increasing access to fresh food, improving opportunities for physical activity, and promoting safe and vibrant public spaces.
Led by the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Partnerships and the Fund for Public Health in New York City, BHC aligns resources and programs of multiple city agencies, leverages the City’s investment to secure significant funding, and connects City efforts to individual, nonprofit, business, and community efforts to maximize collective impact.
Farms at New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), is one component of BHC. Through this initiative, young public housing residents build and maintain farms on NYCHA properties across the city to serve fellow residents, with local partners. The Farms expand healthy food access, provide youth workforce and leadership development, and help bring communities together.
The farms are constructed and operated by 18 to 24-year-old NYCHA residents who are Green City Force AmeriCorps members. This program also combines youth development, job training, community engagement, and nutrition education.
The initiative builds on the success of the first NYCHA farm, which was built in 2013 in Red Hook. In 2016, three new urban farms were built in Brownsville, Canarsie, and East Harlem. A new farm was built in Morrisania in 2017.
Over the last two years, more than 32,000 pounds of free organic produce was grown and distributed to NYCHA residents in exchange for compost scraps or volunteer hours. More than 3,100 pounds of food scraps were diverted from landfills and incinerators through composting.
In addition, more than 90 young NYCHA residents were prepared for quality jobs or college and more than 840 students learned about farming. Healthy eating has been promoted to residents through more than 170 farm stands and cooking demonstrations. The Farms also attracted over 7,000 residents to volunteer, tour, and attend community celebrations.
Farms at NYCHA turned formerly underused places in NYCHA developments into vibrant green spaces that encourage informal community gatherings and public events, foster active and healthy living, and improve the aesthetics, security, and quality of life for residents.
All in Brooklyn
AmeriCorps via The Corps Network
Brooklyn Community Foundation
Hyde and Watson
Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund
Merck Family Fund
New York City Council
New York Community Trust
Wakefern Food Corporation