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Urban farms

Indoor urban farm in New York helps feed hundreds of families

Tuesday, March 20, 2012 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: urban farms, local food, indoor

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(NaturalNews) Flowering displays are replacing urban decay all across America, with recent reports out of New York illustrating the power of creative, resourceful thinking in implementing successful, city-based farming initiatives. New York Daily News reports that a food pantry in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y., has successfully created a 250-square foot indoor farm that produces food for hundreds of local families and their children -- and many others in the area are working on similar projects.

While the typical embodiment of many food pantries today resembles something along the lines of a convenience store, with shelves bearing mostly pre-packaged, processed food items donated by outside sources, the situation at Child Development Support Corp. is different. Mireille Massac, the pantry's operator, actually grows a variety of lettuces, bok choy, collard greens, and other fresh fare hydroponically in a windowless basement, providing food from the inside-out, rather from the outside-in.

With the help of hydroponics expert Lee Mandell, who owns nearby Boswyck Farms in Bushwick, another Brooklyn neighborhood, Massac has created an urban oasis that not only produces fresh food, but also educates the local community about how to grow it. It is a literal manifestation of the famous quote, "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

"People feel very passionate about this farm; they're eating better," said Massac to New York Daily News about the transformation that is taking place in her local community as a result of the farm. "They come with a different attitude; it's all about healthy eating."

Every Thursday morning before the pantry opens, locals flock there to pick the fruits of their labor. They also regularly engage in workshops and training sessions about how to grow food hydroponically, which empowers them to take an active role in the process, and even implement their own home-based farms if they so choose.

Urban farming concepts spreading like wildfire

And Massac's success at Child Development Support Corp. has inspired many other pantry managers throughout New York to implement similar hydroponic farms at their own facilities as well. Los Sures, a social services agency that also operates a food pantry in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, for instance, is currently in the process of building its own 400-square foot hydroponic farm.

Similar efforts at empowering local communities to take charge of their own health and nutrition through urban farming are taking place in other cities as well, including in post-industrially-blighted Detroit, Mich., where abandoned land plots are rapidly being transformed into fertile growing plots. And this transformation is bringing about a renewed sense of food ownership, where fresh, nutritionally-dense foods are now accessible by people across the economic and financial spectrum (http://www.naturalnews.com/030459_urban_farms_food.html).

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