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Produce to the People : Solutions for Manhattan's Food Deserts Graham Isaac Nichols An Undergraduate Honors Thesis Presented to the School of Architecture and the Honors Program at the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Bachelor of Design in Architecture with High or Highest Honors University of Florida 2016
Nichols 1 Copyright (c) 2016 Graham Isaac Nichols
Nichols 2 Dedication To my parents, for their constant support and belief in me which has allowed me to go further than I could have ever imagined.
Nichols 3 Acknowledgements The work here would not be possible without the guidance of my D7 professor Nancy Clark who helped shape an d push the project into something visionary The project which this thesis expands upon, was created entirely in collaboration with my D7 partner Sarah Rutland, whom I worked with in tandem to create the graphical representation and the i deas that drove the project It is also necessary acknowledge my thesis ad visor Bradley Walters, whom pushed me to advance the writing to a far higher caliber tha n I could have done alone Thank you all for making this possible
Nichols 4 Table of Contents Dedication | pg. 2 Acknowledgements | pg. 3 Abstract | pg. 5 Introduction + Initial Research Food Deserts | pg. 6 Deserted Island | pg. 7 A breath of FRESH Air | pg. 10 Project ReFRESH Initivative | pg. 13 Stackable Farms | pg. 13 Modular Roof Top Gardens | pg. 15 The Floating Farm | pg. 19 Impediments | pg. 23 Conclusion | pg. 23 References | pg. 25
Nichols 5 Abstract of Undergraduate Honors Thesis Presented to the School of Architecture and the Honors Program at the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Bachelor of Design in Architecture with High or Highest Honors Title: Produce to the People: Solutions for Manhattan's Food Deserts Name: Graham Isaac Nichols April 2016 Thesis Advisor: Bradley Walters Department Honors Coordinator: Mark McGlothlin Major: Architecture Lack of and limited access to food is a global problem. E ven in first world countries like the United States, many adults and children exist in poor health and hunger living in impoverished areas known as food deserts. Even Manhattan, one of the richest citie s on the planet, suffers from food deserts especially in its 9, 10, 11, and 12 districts. Though steps from the government have been taken to increase food access to these areas there still exists a lack of p roper amount of nutritious food in these districts Three urban farming proposals were created by taking the se government policies, and turning them into designed systems created to help further relieve these areas in crisis through a new form of utilitarian and flexible infrastructure for Manhattan
Nichols 6 Food Deserts In the United States, we are fortunate to live in a land of plenty. However, despite being a major world producer of meat, crops, and foodstuffs, there are still as many as 17.4 million households (14 percent of all households) exi sting in a state of food insecurity and malnourish ment 1 Food insecurity according to the Life Science Research Office is defined as inadequate or unreliable accessibility of nutrient rich and safe foods or a lack of ways to acquire food in a way tha t acceptable by society. 2 Where m alnourishment is defined by World Health Organization as a lack of nutrition caused by various factors but most commonly due to poor diet or repeated infections, often times in underprivileged populations. 3 The main focus here in will be looking at malnourishment due to poor diet. These 17.4 million households often suffer together in areas known as "Food Deserts." A food desert is determined as an urban area with at least 500 people and/or at least one thir d of it's population living more than one mile from a supermarket or large g rocery store and for rural areas th e distance is more than 10 miles. 4 1 Coleman Jensen, Alisha, et al, Household Food Security in the United States in 2014 ( United States Department of Agriculture 2015), 7 2 S.A. Andersen, ed., Core Indicators of Nutritional State for Difficult to Sample Populations," The Journal of Nutrition 120 ( 1990 ),1557 1600 3 BlÂšssner, Monika, de Onis, Mercedes. Malnutrition: quantifying the health impact at national and local levels. ( Gen eva, World Health Organization 2005 ), 9 4 Gallagher, Mari. "USDA Defines Food Deserts." American Nutrition Association 37.4. American Nutrition Association 1
Nichols 7 Deserted Island Manhattan is no stranger to the phenomenon of food deserts Despite being one of the wealthiest locations in the United States, it too suffers from a form of food deserts which despite not being the more than one mile away rule set forth by the USDA it is clear that it is afflict ing the area none the less due to the distance (see figure 0 1) This distance is significant due to the fact that Manhattan is a city oriented to the pedestrian, and therefore making it difficult to carry groceries long distance, where in most other cities one could simply load up a car and drive. A 2008 study cond ucted by Mayor's Food Policy Task Force discovered that these food deserts afflicted the island s districts 9, 10 11, and 12, as well as many of the surrounding Burroughs O ften times these deserts occurrences were directly correlating to the economically impoverished areas (see figure 02) 5 These food deserts lack fresh fruit and vegetables, allowing citizens to have only access to h ighly processed and fast foods. Where food deserts exist there is a strong correlat ion with an increased rate of obesity with as many as 1.1 million New Yorkers obese and 2 million overweight see (figure 03) 6 This unhealthy excess of weight puts the se individuals at risk for preventable diseases such as high blood 5 Going to Market: New York City's Neighborhood Grocery Store and Supermarket Shortage .15. 6 Going to Market: New York City's Neighborhood Grocery Store and Supermarket Shortage 16.
Nichols 8 pressure, cancer, ca rdiovascular disease, heart attacks and diabetes, which affects already as many as 700,000 New Yorkers 7 fig. 01: Map of New York city show casing the distance to a market and the average fruits and vegetables eaten by an average individual in these area. Source: NYC Community Health Survey 2008 Bureau of Epidemiology Services, NYC DOHMH, ( https://umicheso.wordpress.com/author/himesfer/ ) (accessed April 10, 2016) 7 IBID 15.
Nichols 9 f ig. 02: Map of Poverty in New York City Note overlap between fig. 01 Source: U.S Census 2000/NYC Department of City Planning ( https://umicheso.wordpress.com/author/himesfer/ ) (accessed April 10, 2016) fig. 03 : mapping the diabetes prevalence and obesity. Note overlap between fig. 01 and 02. Source : NYC Community Health Survey 2008 Bureau of Epidemiology Services, NYC DOHM/H ( https://umicheso.wordpress.com/author/himesfer/ ) (accessed April 10, 2016)
Nichols 10 A B reath of FRESH air Former Mayor Bloomberg (in office 2002 2013) in response to the findings from the research, created the FRESH initiative in 2009 standing for: Food Retail Ex pansion to Support Health. FRESH provides New York C ity with various tax incentives geared towards advancing a healthier lifestyle to these areas through easing access to fresh produce and proper nutrition. Bloomberg's initiative is still active, and continues into the administration of t he current mayor, de Blasio. Overall it has had a positive impact, however it is missing one key element to make it truly successful. It relies too much on top down government intervention. It req uires a way in which the production of food could be placed into the hands of the p eople, rather than controlled distribution through bureaucratic entities In short, a self reli ant democratization of farming.
Nichols 11 fi g. 04 Manhattan with the FRESH initiative I mage ma de in collaboration with Sarah R utland
Nichols 12 R e FRESH initiative Manhattan is made possible on through its complex network infrastructure which operates at a high level of precision. It's like an eight mile long Swiss cl ock. Taking this into account, i t was essential then to design in a way that was strategic, use already existing infrastructure to our advantage and to fill in existing urban spaces to integrate in a non obtrusive way that would not disrupt Manhattan in any way. Thus three tactical farming solutions were created designed to blend into the unique urban context of Manhattan. They are: stackable farms, modular roof top gardens, and a farming ferry. Their purpose is to support and further the FRESH initiative while democratizi ng urban agriculture. The Stackable Farms Space is a luxury in New York. Every nook and cranny comes at a premium on the island of Manhattan. It was necessary to design something that could fill in these nooks and crannies T hat can be flexible and grow and commensurate to the needs of the area. The stackable farm is an adjustable solution, which is reliant upon a small scaffolding cube module that can be placed on public or private land The scaffolding tubes are hollow, all owing for water and nutrients to be pumped through and brought directly to the plants roots creating a
Nichols 13 ae roponic farming lattice upon which vegetables and produce can be grown. These cubes can be connected and stacked to serve an individual, a family or even a whole block (see Figure 05) The benefits of ae roponic farming are numerous. Aeroponics use 98 percent less water reduce fertilizer usage by 60 percent, and can completely eliminate the need of pesticid es 8 Aeroponic farming also produces 45 to 75 percent more crops per square meter than hydroponic farming and traditional farming techniques respectively 9 Taking those percentages into account, if one begins stacking these units vertically, it would expon entially produce even more food per square meter. Not only does this method of production reduce waste and environmental toxins when compared to traditional farming, it also reduces the distance of travel for these crops to be shipped and distributed, thu s also reducing greenhouse emissions. Any excess productive waste such as husks and stems from produce could then be composted and donated to the more traditional urban gardens and farms around the city. Open and abandoned lots are the most ideal for food production using the stackable farms as they allow for the most natural light to reach the plants and therefore the greatest range of fruits and vegetables It is possible however to place the stackable farm into an alley and raise 8 "Progressive Plan t Growing Has Business Blooming Spinoff 2006 67 9 Ibid.
Nichols 14 healthy crops by using plants that are more sh ade tolerant such as broccoli, S wiss chard, spinach and peas (see Figure 06) These farms are meant to be open air and would therefore require proper planning for seasons of reaping and sowing. The stackable farms can serve not only as a means of growing personal crops due to the massive yield of aeroponic farming it could also serve to provide additional cash flow to individuals in these impoverished areas Paying for the construction and building costs of the stackable farms, which would be minor due to their mass produced nature and a llowing for extra produce to be sold for profit and bring economic revival to these areas in need. Fig. 05 Stackable farm variations. Image made in collaboration with Sarah Rutland
Nichols 15 Fig 06 : Stackable farm in an alley. Image created in collaboration with Sarah Rutland Modular Roof Top Garden The r ooftops of Manhattan are bare, underutilized and serve as fantastic conductors of heat, making the city 's temperature as much as 22 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than the temperature s in nearby rural
Nichols 16 areas. 10 This is caused by what is known as the heat island effect. There are several ways to combat this phenomenon, such as painting the roofs white or creating a rooftop garden. Installing any of these systems to the city would greatly reduce energy bills as well as the overall temperature of Manhattan Already there are some movements towards creating rooftop gardens in Manhattan but th ese are costly and cumbersome due their DIY nature rather than standardized manufacturing By breaking the garden elements into prefabricated modules, they can be purchased and placed piecemeal (see Figure 07) Growing to meet the need and demand of the bu ilding, and allowing it to be constantly updated and easily configured The secondary benefit of the modular design increases their affordability; by mass producing prefabricated modules it will greatly reduce the cost to the consumer A Third benefit, sim ilar to the stackable farm, would be reduction of shipping thus reducing the overall embodied energy and pollution created by trucks travelling long distances to deliver the crops as well cost of the produce to the consume r. 10 What are Heat Islands?" Reducing Urban Heat Islands: Compendium of Strategies ( Environmental Protection Agency 2008 ) 4
Nichols 17 F ig. 07: The various modular roof top garden packages. Image made in collaboration with Sarah Rutland.
Nichols 18 Fig. 08: Modular roof top garden deployed in Manhattan. Image made in collaboration with Sarah Rutland.
Nichols 19 The Floating Farm With the ever rising cost of land (and dwindling FAR) in Manhattan, it is not feasible to farm on large swaths of land, as is traditional agriculture. However, where land is limited, ferries are plentiful. Already today hundreds of ferries drift through the waters that surround the island. By ta pping into this existing system, it allows for the production of crops without obstructing or preventing its normal daily functions of other ferries since they are completely mobile These ferries will float in New York's harbor and o nce the produce is ready the ferries will then deliver the fruit and vegetables to consumers in areas of need. The port s for deliver y are designed with special terminals for the farming ferries These terminals are made in modules and modifiable, allowing them to be tai lored to the needs of the area. Each terminal serves the function of providing a space for the ferry to dock, as well as the unloading, storage and selling of the produce. Due to the modular nature these terminals can have secondary and tertiary functions i ncluding : observation decks and gardens to provide a gathering space and attract visitors to spend time within the markets spaces and make it more likely to make purchases of produce bringing economic vitality to the area
Nichols 20 fig. 09: Modules of complete ferry terminal coming together Image made in collaboration with Sarah Rutland.
Nichols 21 fig. 10 : Farming f erry and terminal in full operation. Image made in collaboration with Sarah Rutland.
Nichols 22 fig. 11: Manhattan reFRESHED. Image made in collaboration with Sarah Rutland.
Nichols 23 Impediments As it is right now there are no laws that explicitly forbid farming within the city limits. In some cases people are beginning to form their creative solutions for agriculture i n Manhattan, such as Truck Farm, which uses the bed of a truck as the space in which to garden. Each of these proposals were designed to be strategic and tactical, having minimum impact on the urban environment while having maximum impact on the lives of those in need. Ultimately, The major factor preventing this type of infrastructure from occurring is an economic one. Through mass production, tax breaks and subsidization it would be possible to reduce the cost and make it possible individuals that live in impoverished areas to aff ord own one of the three apparatuses to join into the reFRESH infrastructure. Through purchase it would be possible to begin to produce not only their own food, but extra food, which they could sell to others to bring in extra income or even form a new job market. Conclusion These proposals offer a new way of approaching policy making and social reform, by using designed ideas to help compliment and further tax incentives and laws. At the same time also giving to the people
Nichols 24 the confidence and the outlet t o be able to do it them selves, an American tradition. T hese proposals serve as blue prints to new approaches to urban farming, and could easily be experimented with and placed in cities across America and the rest of the world without issue not just Manhattan They are meant to stimulate others and open the door of what farming could be to encourage production of crops but also invention In the hopes that it leads to the creation a global infrastructural network that feeds the communities it connect s to w hile add ing another economic engine to the se communities to help empower them and bring them out of poverty It's time to take a bite out of the food deserts and hunger crisis that plague so many and bring produce to the people
Nichols 25 References BlÂšssner, Monika, de Onis, Mercedes. Malnutrition: quantifying the health impact at national and local levels. ( Gen eva, World Health Organization 2005 ), 1 (accessed March 6 2016) http://www.who.int/quantifying_ehimpacts/publications/MalnutritionEBD12.pdf Coleman Jensen, Alisha, et al, Household Food Security in the United States in 2014 ( United States Department of Agriculture 2015), 7, (accessed March 3 2016) http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/1896836/err194_summary.pdf Gallagher, Mari. "USDA Defines Food Deserts." American Nutrition Association 37.4. American Nutrition Association 9 accessed March 18, 2016. http://americannutritionassociation.org/newsletter/usda defines foo d deserts Going to Market: New York City's Neighborhood Grocery Store and Supermarket Shortage .15. ( accessed March 19 2016. ) http://www.nyc.gov/html/misc/pdf/going_to_market.pdf "Progressive Plan t Growing Has Business Blooming Spinoff 2006 67 (accessed March 22 2016) http://spinoff.nasa.gov/Spinoff2006/PDF/accessible.pdf S.A. Andersen, ed., Core Indicators of Nutritional State for Difficult to Sample Populations," The Journal of Nutrition 120 ( 1990 ),1557 1600, (accessed March 4 2016) http://jn.nutrition.org/content/1 20/11_Suppl/1555.full.pdf What are Heat Islands?" Reducing Urban Heat Islands: Compendium of Strategies ( Environmental Protection Agency 2008 ) 4, (accessed March 23, 2016) https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2014 06/documents/basicscompendium.pdf