The Lancaster Urban Farming Initiative seeks to develop our underutilized infrastructure such as rooftops and unused or abandoned properties to create and support innovative urban farming projects. These farms will help to produce organic food, create jobs for local farm workers, establish educational opportunities for the public, and assist in developing more deeply rooted sense of wellbeing in our community. With our efforts, we intend to create greater access for all members of our community to a sustainable, local, totally organic food supply.
Expanding our agricultural reach will mean transforming unutilized space on rooftops and vacant properties. Our Flagship Rooftop Farm is intended to be developed into an 18,000 square foot greenhouse with a 10,000 square foot open air farm atop an existing structure right in the heart of downtown Lancaster. We will support exclusively organic growing methods and our produce will be sold directly to local restaurants who support our initiative.
There are plenty of reasons for developing our green spaces in the city, but we also know that this requires time spent actively engaging the public. When informed about the potential environmental, health, and community benefits to urban farming, we know our friends and neighbors will support the cause.
Urban agriculture is a movement that can radically improve quality of life of residents in our community. We aim to be a catalyst for that positive change and to chart our progress toward reaching the citywide goals—to achieve 32 acres of urban green space in 25 years. We aim to make Lancaster a model-city that will inspire others across the nation to develop their urban agriculture infrastructure.
Most urban farming deals with converting unused rooftop space into viable growing space. This is typically done using a waterproofing membrane combined with a lightweight soil, and often includes additional layers of root barrier, drainage, and irrigation systems. The rooftop ecosystem is maintained through integrative, organic pest management and using compost, soil formation, and energy cycling. Additionally, green roof spaces absorb and purify rainwater, provide insulation for the building, increase the amount of oxygen in the urban environment, while also increasing biodiversity. Other techniques commonly used in urban farming include, hydroponics, aeroponics, greenhouses, or other controlled environment methods.
When grown locally, crops are picked at their peak of ripeness versus being harvested early in order to be shipped and distributed to your local retail store. Many times produce at local markets has been picked within 24 hours of your purchase. Commercially grown produce is often older, has traveled farther, and sits in distribution centers before it gets to your store, causing its nutrient value to decrease.
The more steps there are between you and your food’s source the more chances there are for contamination. Food grown in distant locations has the potential for food safety issues at harvesting, washing, shipping and distribution. Buying local means you can ask what practices they use to raise and harvest the crops. So, when you know where your food comes from and who grew it, you can feel more confident about your food supply.
Well managed organic systems with better nutrient retentive abilities, greatly reduce the risk of groundwater pollution, while also sequestering carbon in the soil. Consider this: food related emissions in the U.S. account for 21% of total carbon emissions, or 6.1 tons of CO2 per year. The average meal has traveled 4,200 miles just to get to the table. By purchasing locally grown foods produced through urban farming, you can help reduce our city’s carbon footprint.
Organic farmers are both custodians and users of biodiversity at all levels. Diverse combinations of plants and animals optimize nutrient and energy cycling for agricultural production, while soil building encourages beneficial fauna and flora, improving soil formation and structure to create more stable systems. In turn, nutrient and energy cycling is increased and the retentive abilities of the soil for nutrients and water are enhanced, eliminating the need for commercial fertilizers.
Urban agriculture expands the economic base of the city through production, processing, packaging, and marketing of consumable products. The money that is spent with local farmers and growers all stays close to home and is reinvested by businesses and services in your community. This often results in increased entrepreneurial activities and the creation of jobs, the reduction of food costs, and improving the affordability of the high-quality food supply.
President - Corey Fogarty - Federal Taphouse Holdings / Helios Development Group
Vice President - Todd Bartos, Esq. - Aspire Ventures / Spruce Law Group
Secretary - Gordon Kautz II - Kautz Construction / KC Green Roofing
Treasurer - Scott Arment, CPA - Stutz Arment LLP
Mary Ann Garrett - Owl Hill Learning Centers
Scott Kuhn - Wells Fargo Private Mortgage Banking
Ross Martin-Wells, Ph.D - Rijuice
Mark Pontz - Fine Living Lancaster
Fritz Schroeder - Lancaster County Conservancy
Joe Sheldon - Performance Food Group
Chris Sigmund - Team Ag