May 18, 2015

Background and Goals


The United Nations proclaimed 2014 to be the Year of Family Farming. The UN then declared 2015 to be the International Year of Soils. The UN Secretary-General also gives top priority to the elimination of hunger and has created the ‘Zero Hunger Challenge’ which promotes small-scale farming and zero loss of food.

At the same time, the majority of people on the earth now live in urbanized areas, thus making urban food security and urban farming a pertinent issue.

Despite this, hundreds of tons of food from the UN Headquarters are hauled to the landfill each year, where it rots and produces methane, a major greenhouse gas. And there is not one edible plant located on the 17 acres of the UN Headquarters in New York.

By preventing food waste and instead using it to make compost to produce food, the UN Food Gardens Project would help translate UN policies into action, regarding small-scale farming, zero loss of food, and greenhouse gas reduction.

The UN Food Gardens will provide opportunities for staff, delegates, and other members of the UN community to grow and share vegetables, herbs, and fruit. The gardens will also provide opportunities for inter-cultural social interaction, knowledge sharing, and inspiration for staff and visitors from around the world.

Goals and Objectives

  1. Demonstrate and promote small-scale food production to UN staff, delegates, and visitors
    a. Establish vegetable garden sites and edible plantings
    b. Produce educational materials and construct an interactive garden kiosk
    c. Produce regular social media content about garden activities
    d. Distribute seeds produced at the garden to visitors and staff.
  2. Promote environmental stewardship by recycling composted food and organic waste in the gardens.
    a. Redirect usable food to non-profit organizations such as City Harvest
    b. Establish a system (composting and/or anaerobic digestion) to recycle food waste
  3. Promote staff well-being by increasing opportunities for outdoor activity and informal cross-cultural and inter-departmental interaction.
    a. Host regular gardening workshops and events
    b. Demonstrate and showcase international methods for small-scale gardening.