Lindsay K. Campbell's City of Forests, City of Farms: Sustainability Planning for New York City’s Nature
Reviewed by Kubi Ackerman
In November of 2015, a tree planted in the Bronx was commemorated as the one millionth tree of the city’s MillionTreesNYC initiative. The accompanying ceremony celebrated the culmination of this ambitious urban forestry project spearheaded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. A little more than two years later, the City Council passed what was described as the city’s first ever bill focused specifically on urban agriculture, characterized modestly as “a first step” aimed merely at collecting information on urban agriculture organizations and businesses. Given the mainstreaming of environmental issues in New York City, which are inclusive of both urban forestry and urban agriculture, why was the former enthusiastically embraced at the top levels of municipal governance while the latter is still now only very slowly receiving the attention of policymakers? This is the central question of Lindsay Campbell’s book, City of Forests, City of Farms: Sustainability Planning for New York’s Nature, which juxtaposes and contrasts these two distinct but interrelated conceptions of nature in the city that rose to prominence in the Bloomberg Era. In so doing, Campbell provides insight on the complex interplay between politics and biological and social ecologies, and raises critical questions as to who ultimately benefits from sustainability initiatives.