Urban agriculture may seem like a contradiction in terms, but it’s not. And Capital District Community Gardens, with its Urban Grow Center planned for Troy, intends to show us why.
Most people know this organization by the 50 community gardens it operates around the region (six in the city of Schenectady), places that bring a touch of natural beauty to bleak urban areas and locally grown food to their residents. It also operates a Veggie Mobile that distributes fresh produce to urban neighborhoods without a grocery store — which is most of them.
But for the past 10 years the group has been developing a broader vision, something that will build connections between farms and cities, between the environment and the economy; something that can serve as a model for sustainable urban agriculture. And the Urban Grow Center is it.
The center will be in an old manufacturing building in a transitional neighborhood in Troy. It will be a place to grow food in greenhouses; to sell it in a low-cost fresh produce market; and to store it, both what’s grown on-site and at local farms, for distribution to the region’s cities. There will also be a commercial kitchen to incubate food-based businesses. The building will use green concepts and technology.
With private donations the group is already half-way to its fund-raising goal of $2.5 million for phase one, with the public campaign started last week. It deserves credit and support for an imaginative project that will be good not only good for Troy, but the entire region.