Date of Award

Spring 5-21-2016


Dr. Edward Van Buren


Urban centers have long been areas characterized by teeming activity, innovation, and idealized opportunity. However, without fail every urban center contains the paradox between abundance and injustice as evidenced by high rates of food insecurity, lack of green space, and the compounding health disparities experienced by predominantly low-income and minority residents. These injustices will only worsen as the impacts of climate change accelerate. In response, this thesis uses New York City as a case study to explore the efficacy of ZFarming, which is farming in and on buildings, for creating more equitable and sustainable cities. This is accomplished by establishing the quantitative data surrounding food insecurity, poverty, and access to green space in America, and then more specifically, in New York City. These issues are then analyzed through the history and framework of the environmental justice movement. Next, the ecosystem services provided by ZFarming and access to green space are discussed, which reveals the importance of environmental amenities for public health. This results in an exploration of current New York City’s policies and local initiatives for implementing ZFarming, and improving access to green space and food security. Finally, after considering the scope of injustices that plague one of the most abundant cities in the world, a series of policies are suggested to encourage future ZFarming implementation. This is vital, because ZFarming has the potential to serve as a model for sustainable city development through the provision of ecosystem services, while simultaneously weaving together the paradox of abundance and injustice existing within New York City.