The population of the world is steadily urbanizing. By 2050, two thirds of the world’s population will live in cities. The Americas lead the world with the largest proportion of city-dwellers with over 80% today and 90% projected by 2050. The rapid expansion of cities has brought significant challenges including poor living conditions, increased inequality and a lack of access to basic services. The poverty and marginalization that many urban residents face take a toll on their physical and mental health and erode their sense of community. Inner-city children grow up consuming processed foods and are disconnected from nature, missing out on the psychological and physical health benefits of balanced and nutritious diets.
However, in many urban areas, community food gardens have flourished and serve as supplementary sources of fresh produce and as a way to unite and empower communities. These small urban oases allow people to be directly involved in how their food is grown and consumed, fostering a sense of community and connection between people and the planet.
The UN Food Gardens
The UN Food Gardens is a voluntary initiative of the UNSRC Gardening Club that is establishing food gardens on the premises of the UN Headquarters. It is managed by a diverse group of volunteers who share a passion for sustainability, organic food and individual action toward a better world. Our aim is to help the UN translate global priorities related to sustainable food systems and greener cities into action, and to lead by example.
The ﬁrst garden was officially inaugurated at the UN Headquarters in New York on Mandela Day (18 July 2015) in tribute to the statesman’s lifelong commitment to gardening. Since its inception, the UN Food Gardens has hosted numerous events and partnered with a diverse range of programs and partners, both within the UN System and in the wider community of New York City to share local expertise and show support for urban gardening.
Call for submissions
In 2017, the UN Food Gardens Initiative, in partnership with UN-Habitat, hosted a showcase of small scale urban agriculture initiatives in the Americas in order to share experiences, raise awareness about urban agriculture in the region, and incentivize policy action in support of this important activity in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly goals 2 (Zero Hunger), 3 (Good Health and Well-being), 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) and 15 (Life on Land) and in the context of the New Urban Agenda adopted at the Habitat III conference.
Submissions were evaluated for special recognition on the basis of the following:
Sustainability and innovation: The project has incorporated innovative and sustainable technologies and practices in their garden, demonstrating a commitment to environmental sustainability.
Community engagement and capacity building: The project integrates creative ways of engaging the wider local community, including through workshops and events in the garden that are open to the public.
Food security: The project contributes directly to ensuring food security in the community, growing and distributing food to those in need.
Youth involvement: The project makes an effort to foster youth-friendly programs and activities.
Resilience: The project has a long-term plan in place, which ensures its sustainability, and includes strategies for mitigating the effects of climate change and other environmental factors.
2017 Selected submissions
Plantando e Aprendendo (Casa do Bom Menino) – Piracicaba, São Paulo, Brazil
Horta Das Corujas – Vila Beatriz, São Paulo, Brazil
Horta Comunitária de Calçada Cristo Rei – Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil
Horta Comunitária Girassol – Brasilia, Brazil
Huerto Urbano La Arboleda – San José, Costa Rica
462 Halsey Community Farm – Brooklyn, New York, USA
Kelly Street Garden Bronx – The Bronx, New York, USA
City Farmer’s ‘Demonstration Garden’ – Vancouver, Canada
Kingsbridge Heights Community Center – The Bronx, New York, USA
Urban Harvest STL – St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Food Garden and Outdoor Learning at UBC Botanical Garden – Vancouver, Canada
Huerto Tlatelolco – Mexico City, Mexico
Fleet Farming – Orlando, Florida, USA