The Jersey City Council has approved a Vertical Farming Program, with the first farm to be installed in a public housing community. The agreement, a partnership between AeroFarms, the city, and the Housing Authority, is intended to increase healthy food access and encourage residents to live healthier lifestyles.
The first project’s farms will be funded by the city and will be jointly run by the Jersey City Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), AeroFarms, and Jersey City Housing Authority. The Boys & Girls Club and Head Start Early Childhood Learning programs will also support the produce distribution and provide education about nutrition.
AeroFarms will construct and maintain the farming sites, which use up to 95% less water and no pesticides versus traditional field farming. The city intends to form the JCHA-Aerofarms Advisory Committee to provide strategic oversight and guidance throughout the program.
“As a Certified B Corporation, we applaud Mayor Fulop’s leadership and advocacy to bring healthier food options closer to the community, and we are excited to launch together the nation’s first municipal vertical farming program that will have a far-lasting positive impact for multiple generations to come,” said Co-Founder and CEO of AeroFarms David Rosenberg.
The city’s Vertical Farming Program will consist of nine additional vertical farms throughout Jersey City in senior centers, schools, public housing complexes, and municipal buildings. It is expected that the 10 sites will grow 19,000 pounds of vegetables annually. The food will be free to residents if they participate in five healthy eating workshops.
“We’ve worked hard to keep the Vertical Farming Program a priority despite the impacts from this pandemic, which have disproportionately affected the more economically challenged areas and exacerbated societal issues such as healthy food access,” said Mayor Steven Fulop. “We’re taking an innovative approach to a systemic issue that has plagued urban areas for far too long by taking matters into our own hands to provide thousands of pounds of locally-grown, nutritious foods that will help close the hunger gap and will have an immeasurable impact on the overall health of our community for years to come.”