by Marion Nestle
Aug 1 2011

Who says you can’t grow vegetables in New York City?

The Wall Street Journal says you can.  If a Murdoch paper says so, it must be true.  I’ve got ripe tomatoes on my terrace.  But here’s serious urban farming in the Bronx.  Is local food a fad?  I don’t think so.

  • I worked at a farmers’ market in the Bronx that was supplied by many of these gardens. We sold lots of herbs, tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers, but community members also went out of their way to buy our fresh eggs and figs. The map is incorrect- Tremont garden grows plenty of figs, grapes, and other fruit.

  • Alex

    Like most hobbies or pass-times urban farming will be a passing fad when the novelty wears off and it becomes a chore.

  • Can you imagine what kind of a person is threatened by people demonstrating that they want fresh fruits and vegetables? I cannot. i do not understand it.

  • Whoa! I see M really is moderating. Yet, I really want to know what is behind all thuis hostility?

  • Suzanne

    I believe there is a paid astroturfer who visits this site to represent the lobbying interests of agri-business and posts under multiple pseudonyms. There are posts written in a very similar writing style to be found on Bill Marler’s Food Safety Blog, with frequency.

  • Bambi

    Urban farming is harmless unless you grow stuff people might be allergic to or weeds like ragweed.

    What is your opinion about urban farming? Why are you calling people “astroturfer”?

  • Suzanne

    Urban farming is an excellent way to help food-insecure people be self-sustaining, and not reliant on the whims of the commodities market and corporate price increases. It provides a means to produce food that is not laden with pesticides. It can help build a sense of community – food swaps are terrific to provide a varied diet at minimal cost.

    I believe there is someone being paid to provoke controversy and promote talking points favorable to corporate agri -business. This person has created an online persona with a consistent tone that frequently includes personal insults to stay on message and create a negative climate for public health initiatives – particularly related to organic food production, which is the largest area of growth in the food business, clearly a threat to corporate interests of the industrialized food variety.

  • realfoodie

    oh-oh–I see I got “moderated”, as did the troll. Sorry, but I did not think my response to the obvious troll was rude or uncivil.

    Suzanne is right, of course, but I see it leaning as much to regulation as organics. Regulation is what industry fears the most. I don’t know if the person in question is paid or not, but I’d bet that (s)he represents the industry in some way.

    This is my favorite blog and I hope we can get back to simply discussing the issues. There’s always been some disagreement here, but not at a level of purposely attacking the host or other posters.

  • Suzanne

    Great point @realfoodie – and public health initiatives often involve regulating a profit stream.

  • Ben

    one should try to grow vegetables for the simple fact that it is hard! It will give you an appreciation of how skilled farmers actually are

  • Anthro


    I guess “hard” (or difficult) is a relative term. I love to grow veggies and find it very therapeutic and enjoyable. The size of a garden might affect the enjoyment of it, and a person could simply do only a small garden or just a couple of tomatoes in a pot–that would still be very satisfying when you get to eat the wonderful fresh fruit, but wouldn’t be too difficult at all. Try it! Or at least go visit a community or neighbor’s garden and see what goes on. I scatter my veggies among my flowers and they do very well with very little effort. I have a couple of raised beds for tomatoes and corn (popcorn this year!) and the berries, but I only plant half of it if I get tired. There’s always the Farmer’s Market for what I don’t grow myself.

  • Muriel

    I’m allergic to most plant pollens. Do not encourage my neighbors to selfishly pollute my air with pollen from their silly garden plants.

  • foodie

    Have you seen this clever project? By the filmmakers of King Corn, comes “Truck Farm,” a movie about the smallest CSA in the biggest city. You can grow food anywhere….

  • Suzanne

    @foodie, what I thought was so amazing about Truck Farm is that they actually established a CSA to feed neighbors who wanted to participate! I can’t wait to get started on a garden in my own home, now that I have a front and back yard. Am trying to convince the Mr. to eliminate the front yard grass and have an edible landscape instead. We are going to get some help designing it so as to make good use of the space and light.

    I think hydroponic lettuce makes great sense for anyone in a small space, and it keeps the bugs away without pesticides.

  • Ben


    I’ve got a fairly sizable vegetable garden and lots of fruit trees.
    I’m just saying that it’s hard man! There’s the heart break of hot days when all my lettuce wilts, and the when grass hoppers get in and decismate all the spinach or possums eating all my chillies or fruit bats eating the banana’s. (i keep it all organic).

    I’m just saying I had a lot more respect for farmers after I started growing my own veggies.

  • Dan

    I’m curious if the Bronx has seen any changes in obesity rates now that the urban farms exhibit a high prevalence. Didn’t the Bronx recently get pegged with one of the highest obesity rates in the country? I know the city in 2008 blamed it on the private sector failing to provide supermarkets in the region. Seems like an opportunity to test that hypothesis.