Hey- thanks for checking out our kickstarter page.
Seeing Green: The Value of Urban Agriculture is a year-long research project that will measure the stormwater management potential of two urban farms; Brooklyn Grange (a rooftop farm) & Added Value (raised beds) in NYC.
Our aim is to create a model for future research that can be replicated anywhere, to help validate and support urban farms. We think policies should be based on scientific study and we want our work to encourage the adoption of supportive incentives and non-restrictive regulations for urban farming.
This is important because farms give us a lot more than just produce- they increase food security, decrease food miles traveled, offer healthy and nutritious produce, create green jobs, improve air and water quality, combat Urban Heat Island effect, create habitat for critters, beautify neighborhoods and many more (feel free to message us we LOVE to talk about this).
This is where you come in- we need your support to do this research- we need to raise $12,000 for the rest of our equipment.
The thing is, we know farms are good but we don’t know exactly how good. There are a lot of skeptics out there that need some convincing. And there is nothing better for combating a nay-sayer than hard data- all decisions in cities are based on numbers.
But how can our research effect policy?
Currently in NYC there is a one-time greenroof tax credit that covers some of the installation costs for a greenroof ($4.50 per sq ft up to $100,000 which goes to the building owner). The language specifies that roofs which require irrigation are ineligible to receive the credit. This means that the credit doesn't allow for the use of food-producing crops, since these plants need irrigation. The theory behind this was that by using water to irrigate, these roofs would be less effective at retaining stormwater than a traditional greenroof which does not need any irrigation (these are typically planted with sedum or other drought tolerant plants).
However there has been NO scientific study that substantiates this speculation. We actually believe the opposite to be true- we think that by using water intensive plants which also require deeper growing beds, you may see an increase in a roof’s water holding capacity.
This is a clear example of why research like ours is important- because without hard data, misinformation and assumptions about rooftop farms was drafted into legislation. This credit would cover almost half of a developer’s start-up costs for a new 1-acre rooftop farm, which is HUGE. Studies like ours can help inform better policies and incentives, helping to propel the urban agriculture movement.
Why else is this research so important you ask?
Well, cities spend a lot of money to treat stormwater and wastewater, and the way they do this is both energy and money intensive. Wastewater treatment plants in NYC account for 17% of green house gas emissions alone!
NYC and many other major cities across the US and Europe, are having to face the fact that surrounding water bodies (such as the NY Harbor and the Hudson river) are way polluted. A major culprit are combined sewer outflow events (also referred to as CSOs).
NYC has only one system to deal with wastewater which includes stormwater (from buildings’ roofs and streets) and septic waste (from toilets, sinks and showers). During a storm, wastewater treatment plants become overwhelmed by the volume of waste and stormwater causing the plant to dump this combination of raw untreated septic/stormwater directly into surrounding water bodies. This lovely little occurrence is called a CSO event. Over 2 billion gallons of this untreated wastewater is released annually in NYC alone!
What is a solution?:
Urban Farms! These farms provide much needed green space that allows rain to infiltrate the soil, offering a cost effective stormwater solution, and helping to reduce the number of CSO events (which in turn makes our water bodies cleaner).
So, why do we need YOUR help?! To purchase the rest of our equipment- we have already been given a 1/3 of the equipment from two amazing professors at Rutgers. But we need an additional $12,000 to order the rest.
Equipment: $1,000 dataloggers, $3000 flowmeters, $350 windsentry, $500 weather station mount, $2,500 load cells, $1,000 PV panels, $700 moisture probes, $1100 raingauge, $250 sensor shields, $200 cables + terminators, $400 mounting bands $200 batteries, $300 lumber, $250 greenroof materials.
That’s the long and short of it. We couldn’t have gotten this far without the generous help of some great folks and the willingness of our test sites, Brooklyn Grange and Added Value farms.
Now is the part when you come in. We need your contribution to help us reach our funding goal. With your support we can realize more urban farms and make our cities more sustainable. Thank you!
- (30 days)