Jersey City Moving Forward With Launch of First-Ever Inner-City Vertical Farming Program in the U.S.

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As the country begins the healing process, transitioning from coronavirus quarantine to “back to normal”— whatever that is — financial duress has significantly influenced the way municipalities have had to adapt. Like many others, Jersey City has had to consider its budget while deciding which programs to continue financing, and one such program Mayor Steven Fulop examined was a partnership with AeroFarms to bring the nation’s first-ever municipal vertical farming program to JC. 

Now, Mayor Fulop has recently announced that Jersey City will move forward with its plan to launch the country’s first-ever inner-city vertical farming program in the U.S.

vertical farms jersey city

Why Jersey City

Earlier this year, the World Economic Forum selected Jersey City as its first-ever partner as part of its Healthy Cities and Communities 2030 Initiatives, which is how Jersey City became eligible for the nation’s first municipal vertical farming program.

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“As we work through our municipal budget that has been decimated due to the coronavirus pandemic, we are making choices on what programs to keep,” Mayor Fulop said in an official statement. “It is clear that the virus has had a disproportionate impact on people with pre-existing heart conditions, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes which is directly linked to a person’s diet and as a result we feel it is more important than ever to focus on food access and education.”

vertical farms jersey city news

Jersey City was one of the most heavily impacted municipalities throughout the United States, with more than 6,000 confirmed cases of the virus and 400+ fatalities.

Moving forward, Jersey City’s goal is to implement programs that provide food access, promote overall good health and well-being, and improve the lives and health of residents.

“This partnership will allow us to provide thousands of pounds of locally-grown, nutritious foods that will help close the hunger gap and have an immeasurable impact on the overall health of our community,” Fulop added.

About the Farm

A vertical garden is precisely what it sounds like: a garden that maximizes space by traveling upwards rather than solely horizontally like a traditional farm. This can be done in a few different ways — a garden wall, a moss wall, or a hydroponic planter that holds plants on top of each other, similar to how shelves work.

The thought behind investing in a vertical garden program is simple: vertical gardens create more food {since they maximize space} and in urban communities, space is definitely a main concern. It’s also a crucial reason why community gardens in cities aren’t as plentiful in comparison to say, rural communities. But with vertical gardens, you can utilize the “empty” space above crops to plant more crops, which results in increasing food growth and ultimately, widens food access.

jersey city vertcial farming

As InnovateJC reports, coronavirus disproportionately impacted economically-challenged areas, which is why increasing food access to all people, regardless of socioeconomic status or race is pertinent.

“The mayor and I were both selected as Young Global Leaders by the World Economic Forum and while we have known each other for years, I’m excited to work with Jersey City in this formal capacity,” said David Rosenberg, CEO of AeroFarms. “Society’s structural food problems have become more clear with COVID-19. The world needs more distributed localized food production systems. We also need new ways to get healthy food to our most disadvantaged members of society. I am honored to work with Mayor Fulop and the people of Jersey City to find better solutions.”

Along with Jersey City, Austin, Moscow, and Mumbai were also chosen to participate in the World Economic Forum’s Healthy City 2030 initiatives.

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“The Healthy Cities and Communities initiative is a flagship effort of the World Economic Forum,” explained Mayuri Ghosh, head of the Healthy Cities and Communities initiative in the World Economic Forum. “In collaboration with both private-public sector stakeholders, the initiative aims to catalyze new ecosystems that will enable socially vibrant and health and well-being centric cities and communities.”

Ghosh added, “Establishing a secure supply of nutritious food via locally-sourced, vertically-farmed greens in collaboration with Aerofarms has been a key accomplishment of the Forum’s partnership with Jersey City. The shared insights will be incorporated into efforts underway in other global cities.”

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Stephanie Osmanski writes honest things about health, the planet, and being a woman. Her words have appeared on Business Insider, Parade, Eat This Not That, Dogster, Scary Mommy, Green Matters, Parents, Seventeen, Life & Style, InTouch Weekly, and more. Her articles have been syndicated on World Economic Forum, MSN, MSN UK, and MSN Canada. In her free time, Stephanie and her registered therapy dog, Koda, volunteer at local hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities.