Sustainable Urban CEA Greenhouse Demonstration
Gotham Greens Farms, LLC
New York City comprises the largest part of the demand for imported fresh fruits and vegetables to New York State, a commercial sector worth more than $1 billion. There is a significant market potential for locally grown produce, as well as the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse heating loads by locating the hydroponic growing facility on building roofs in New York City.
Gotham Greens Farms, LLC designed, constructed and operates a 15,000 square foot urban Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) facility on the roof of an industrial building in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The facility produces over 100 tons of lettuce, salad greens and culinary herbs annually. This is a state-of-the-art climate-controlled greenhouse built using innovative energy-efficient materials and design. The facility is supported by an on-site solar electric (PV) system (70,000 kWh annually). Unlike traditional greenhouses build on concrete slabs, additional energy savings are realized by eliminating heat losses through the building roof and the greenhouse floor. Irrigation water for the hydroponic system is re-circulated, saving significantly more water than conventional agriculture.
Sustainable Urban Agriculture: Confirming Viable Scenarios for Production
Final Report [PDF]
This feasibility study broadly evaluates the viability of urban and peri-urban food production techniques compared with rural food production. Specific case study scenarios are presented to examine whether urban food production can be practiced in an economical and resource efficient manner. The study focuses specifically on New York City to determine potential production sites and establish which methods of alternative agriculture production would be most appropriate. Site availability and land values are primary factors limiting the expansion of urban agriculture in New York City (NYC). Between 162,000 and 232,000 acres are needed to supply NYC’s stores with fruits and vegetables, not including the approximately 886 million pounds of tropical or warm-weather fruit consumed annually by New Yorkers which cannot be grown locally. Converting all of the potentially suitable vacant land in NYC (estimated at 4,984 acres) to agriculture with an average growing area of 70 percent of lot area could supply the produce needs of between 103,000 and 160,000 people. Between 46 and 71 percent of the 368,884 acres of active farmland in the counties comprising the NYC Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) would be sufficient to supply the fruit and vegetable needs of NYC residents (excluding warm-weather fruit). If the total population of the NYC MSA is taken into account, the agricultural land of the region could support between 58 and 89 percent of the of the region’s fruit and vegetable needs, were that land dedicated entirely to production for local markets.
The scale of the agricultural production system impacts the scale and structure of subsequent links in the value chain, including processing, distribution, and retail, which will have substantial impacts on total system energy use. There is more research to be done for a more accurate and informed picture of the differences between urban and conventional farming.