Governor Kathy Hochul recently launched a pilot indoor farming program in Harlem that would improve the year-round accessibility of fresh produce for underprivileged local families and advance national research on the best conditions for indoor growing and crop production. The large shipping container outside a New York City Housing Authority building is a part of a multi-state demonstration project funded by the New York Power Authority and directed by the energy R&D organization EPRI. It will assist communities in growing produce all year long, forming healthy habits, and learning about sustainability and environmental issues. A nearby nonprofit organization called Harlem Grown will oversee food production and provide assistance with neighborhood distribution. The initiative will also look into ways to manage resources more effectively and boost yields while decreasing water use and related greenhouse gas emissions. The project helps advance the goals of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which requires New York to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent before 2030 and by no less than 85 percent by 2050.
“Our communities will have the ability to raise fresh, healthful produce locally to help develop a more sustainable New York,” Governor Hochul said. “With year-round indoor farming.” “This hydroponic garden in Harlem, which will feed neighborhood residents nutritious food and aid in training the next generation of urban farmers, is something I’m delighted to unveil. New York is taking another nation-leading step in furthering our clean energy and greenhouse gas reduction goals as we learn more about the environmental and energy consequences of urban crop production.”
The New York Power Authority and project organizers observed the new system in Harlem, a hydroponic greenhouse that produces vegetables in a soil-free environment, recently as they celebrated the project’s opening. The Harlem farming project will contribute to a greater understanding of the environmental, energy, and social implications of indoor agriculture as a part of a nationwide collaborative research initiative coordinated by the nonprofit EPRI. These discoveries will contribute to a deeper comprehension of local indoor crop sustainability, including energy and water use. The results will also aid in boosting community involvement, offering chances for technology and agriculture education, encouraging local job development, and expanding the availability of local crops.
The $250,000 program is being funded by the New York Power Authority’s Research, Technology Development and Innovation program, and the Environmental Justice team oversaw the placement of the 40-foot shipping container with the slogan “Planting fruits and veggies. Growing healthy communities.” The outside waterproof container sits next to the P.S. 139 Senior Center, which is now being transformed into an outdoor garden and gathering space, in a vacant lot off 140th Street.
Tony Hillery, the CEO, and founder of Harlem Grown, said, “We are privileged and thrilled to work with the New York Power Authority, EPRI, and the New York City Housing Authority on this ground-breaking urban farming project. Harlem Grown was founded to serve the area, and this indoor food production system increases our ability to engage residents of all ages, from the young to the elderly. We need to be creative and forward-thinking about how to produce fresh, locally-grown food all year round because there isn’t much area for farming in cities. This endeavor isn’t only about farming; it’s also about food justice, environmental sustainability, and farming.”
Beyond researching agricultural methods, this initiative will also assess the potential effects of indoor food production on the state’s utilities and electrical system. The most effective way for indoor food production facilities and energy suppliers to collaborate will be determined by monitoring the consumption of power and water, technological advancements, and environmental concerns.
Image provided by The New York State