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, called 596 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.