This is an unscheduled post as I was in New York City for a few days at the end of May, and although it related to my PhD work (and thus P cycling in cities), its not about data collection on urban agriculture.
I felt like New York was Montreal on steroids: Denser, bigger, more diverse, just more of everything. I has only in town for 2 days but I got to walk around, explore East Village, see the MOMA, see a Broadway show, and eat great vegan food (and do some great collaborative work on the importance of local context in urban P cycling). I spotted a few “secret gardens” in East Village that looked quite interesting, and if I would have had an extra day I would have gone to visit Brooklyn Grange Farm.
I have thought of using New York as a comparison city to Montreal as they are both islands, fairly dense and in a similar climate zone, and lots of exciting UA projects. Also, there are some great existing data from the Farming Concrete project at Cornell University. Still, the amazing density of NYC makes me wonder if UA in big cities merits as much attention as UA in small or mid-sized cities with more land, and peri-urban and rural-urban agricultural partnerships in terms of nutrient recycling. UA definitely has a role to play quantitatively but perhaps more importantly qualitatively in terms of citizen and government understanding of the food system and thus their actions with regards to “non-urban” agriculture, inputs, and waste in the food system they depend on. My current research questions will not get at the core of the role of UA in nutrient recycling if the qualitative is more important than the quantitative. I think this is ok though considering we have so few quantitative data on the role of UA and still have so much to learn about urban ecosystems and how we can manage more sustainably from both a quantitative and qualitative perspective.
Although I don’t know what my actual comparison cities will be yet (if any), my trip to New York got me thinking about the role of my small research questions in the large context of comparing urban ecosystems and the role UA does and could play in the future of cities.
P.S.: NYC also makes me feel good about the cost of living in Montreal, especially apartments.