In Part I of this series on urban renewal, we touched upon how non-urban renewal can make indoor farming more accessible and equitable through lower upfront costs. By combining this with using locally-sourced, organic agriculture inputs, indoor could maintain profitability, receive potential funding for a space to grow, while also helping small towns or cities attract economic growth for businesses that communities need and new life in a sustainable way.
Now, we’d like to introduce you to a partnered pilot vertical farm that we’re involved in – an urban agriculture pilot project in a small, family friendly town in upstate New York, historically built on industry and arts. This is an incredibly unique time to explore new and innovative models to distribute vertical farming in regions throughout the country beyond high density metropolitan areas for several reasons:
- The desire to revitalize rural (or non-urban) communities that are in decline
- Identifying strategies to cope with the anticipated domestic climate migration as storms and wildfires exacerbated by climate change make parts of the U.S. un-habitable.
It's projects such as this that may help solve both the challenge of rural population loss and the likely acceleration of migration from climate-insecure cities.
A Trip Down Memory Lane in Glens Falls, New York
To understand the vision that we have, let’s step back in time for a second. Imagine it’s year 1904 and you’re standing on Ridge Street, in the city of Glens Falls, New York. In front of you is a building that houses a retail outlet for the sale of livestock feed and fruit stands. Inside, you notice original tin ceilings, eight-foot windows, hardwood flooring, and the traditional oversized moldings and woodwork of that time. As you walk up to the second floor of the building, you realize that it’s an office space for the business that operates their paper mill on a street nearby. Glens Falls is known for its paper industry, due to its strategic location off the Hudson River, surrounded by forests of pulpwood.
Fast forward to a few years, to the mid 20th century. The second floor which used to house the office for the paper milling business is now occupied by Judge Frank Hurley and his legal team.
Afterwards, the building, is then neglected for a few years, leaving it un-tenable. However, as we step into year 1993, the building is purchased from the Hurley family by Frank and Carol Schaeffer, the owners of Goldstar Catering. Restoration work of the building begins.
The Present Opportunity: Non-Urban Renewal Through Agriculture
We’re now in the year 2021 and by now, the walls of this building have seen a number of tenants, all of whom have built businesses that contributed to the local economy in some shape or form. Real people building real value for their communities. Yet, this building has come under scrutiny over the years for needing renewal work. The former value that it held has diminished over the years, especially with the fluctuations due to the real estate market. On the contrary, we see a hidden gem in this building – an opportunity to recover lost value and revitalize not only this building and the floor that our partnered and unique vertical farm model will occupy through our Urban Agriculture Pilot project, but also the street and area that it lives on.
In Part III of our publication on Non-Urban Renewal, we will explain why this project aligns with our values and New York state's, with one particular team member sharing their personal and relatable insights and thoughts.
History of Glens Falls Source
By Riyana Razalee