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News for August 2011

We are resource-hunting

28 August 2011

We are working on developing this page: and would love your thoughts!

Community-Based Strategic Planning: Visioning Session Part 2 September 8

28 August 2011

Visioning session (with seedbombs to give away from IOBY!): Thursday, September 8 at 7pm at Gowanus Studio Space, 166 7th Street, Brooklyn NY. With pie from Four and Twenty Blackbirds (yummmm!).

A nice summary of the last visioning session from IOBY

24 August 2011

IOBY-ites were at are our last visioning session and wrote a really nice summary of the potential of NYC's land here on their site.

"596 Acres, a group whose project was recently funded on our site, concerns itself with making it known that there are 596 acres of vacant public land in Brooklyn. If those 596 acres were dedicated to growing produce for the people of New York City, they would yield over 30 million pounds of food, valued at $75 million. Producing that amount of food and the revenue generated from growing and selling that much food could do a lot for the people of New York, and would require less area than Central Park."


INSERT_____ HERE collaboration with 596 Acres

18 August 2011

INSERT _____ HERE is a great project that is collaborating with 596 Acres to identify sites where communities are working to improve the environment in Brooklyn. The folks from INSERT____HERE will be hanging arrows on lots to identify sites of potential between September 15 and 17. Got a lot that needs an arrow? Want to help hang signs?
Send a email to

NYC Land Inventory Reporting Law Signed By Mayor Bloomberg

17 August 2011
tags: of note

Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed a bill into law yesterday that will require the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) to inventory and make publicly accessible data about city owned and leased property, as well as make a determination about whether that property is "suitable" for urban agriculture.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn characterized the bill as a "green roofs" bill in her email to her constituents earlier this month.

Paula Z. Segal testified at the hearing about this bill for 596 Acres in June. Below is her testimony. The bill passed and was signed into law with no amendments since the time of the hearing.

"We are trying to connect people with land resources. To that end we really support the city land inventory reporting law but would make two significant changes.

"First - it's crucial that contact information for agencies be included in the information that DCAS is mandated to publish. I've been particularly working on a piece of land at the border of Bed-Stuy and Clinton Hill that has been vacant and has was promised to the community and it took us a very long time to figure out who the right person to talk to. And now, we are actually going to be having a community meeting and the commissioner of the agency that owns the land is coming to speak with us, but it took us about a year to figure out who to talk to. After we had that information, it took about three months to get this meeting set up. The contact information was the key.

"Second - the language of 'suitability' for urban agriculture. Urban agriculture looks a lot of different ways in New York City Composting is certainly urban agriculture; it is production of good soil for growing food. Bucket gardens that are growing delicious tomatoes are certainly urban agriculture; a fire escape is suitable for that. I worry about seeing that language as included in the metrics. I worry about who is going to be making that determination.

"There is a lot of urban agriculture or already going on in New York City that goes unreported. One unfortunate kink is that many, many, many of our community gardens - thriving community gardens that had existed for 20, 30 years - are actually classified as vacant by City Planning. So, when we actually go out on the ground and investigate each of the sites we are finding gardens. The disconnect is that New York City's land planning databases don't have a category for urban agriculture."


11 August 2011

Over at SHFT:

"596 Acres aims to transform unused public space, in Brooklyn and beyond.

In Brooklyn alone, there are 596 acres of vacant land just sitting there gathering garbage and gravel. Imagine if that was all green space, growing plants for food and providing parks for BK denizens. That's precisely the vision of 596 Acres, a public project which encourages people to connect with empty lots in the city. The group's actions range from guerrilla seed bombing to pushing for legislative change."

Fast Company

11 August 2011

In Fast Company:

596 Acres Wants The City To Do Something Useful With Our Unused Land

A new guerrilla art project asks the city of New York to give the people access to unused public land, and to create a massive network of urban farms.

Walk through any major city and you'll see vacant lots. They're often seen as signs of urban blight or decay; owned by people who fail to develop them. But in Brooklyn, at least, many of those vacant lots are in fact owned by the city. And one group, called596 Acres, is out to get the city to do something better with that land than simply letting it sit there.

A few weeks ago, these posters (full version below) started appearing on the fences surrounding Brooklyn's undeveloped public land. The campaign calls out the vast number of underused acres owned by the city. That acreage would make up three percent of the total area of Manhattan, which seems small, but with New York real estate prices is an incredible waste to let lay fallow. Except 596 Acres doesn't want the city to sell the land to help balance the budget.

Instead, they want passersby to help support a local bill that would allow the city to turn over these vacant lands to community farms. In a city with so little available land, the idea of urban farming can be laughable, especially when you don't have the start-up capital to start a rooftop farm. If these plots were made available, there is the potential for the start of a true urban farming revolution.

Surely, the city has good reasons to leave some of these plots fenced off and unavailable. But some may simply be caught in various beaurcracies that are causing them to be wasted. We reached out to 596 Acres to get their explanation for the project, but have yet to hear back. Perhaps they want to, for the time being, remain anonymous.