Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara's Urban Farming Land Initiative Bill Passes Both Houses, Awaits Governor's Signature

Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara is proud to announce that his legislation, the Urban Farming Land Initiative, supported by the Schenectady County Food Council, has successfully passed both the New York State Assembly and Senate. The bill now awaits the Governor's signature.

The idea for the bill came from discussion with the Schenectady County Food Council, where Assemblyman Santabarbara is a founding member. The Schenectady County Food Council’s mission is to make recommendations for a community-informed food system that is equitable, healthy, and accessible for all Schenectady County residents.

The legislation encourages the establishment of community gardens on land bank acquired property in New York State. This legislation seeks to help address food insecurity by promoting farming practices on vacant land, particularly in urban areas like Schenectady.

In light of the alarming rise in food insecurity – from 1 in 10 New Yorkers in 2022 to a staggering 1 in 4 in early 2024 – this legislation recognizes urban farming as a part of the solution. The Urban Farming Land Initiative Act aims to make more land available for urban agriculture, enabling the expansion of urban farming and community gardens.

Assemblyman Santabarbara stated, "The Urban Farming Land Initiative is a transformative step that can be part of the solution that helps address food insecurity in our state. By repurposing these vacant properties that sometimes are unsuitable for rebuilding, we can empower local residents with new opportunities to grow their own fresh produce in their own community and continue to serve the mission of the land bank by putting these properties back into use. This initiative is a win-win because it also promotes environmental sustainability and boosts local economies.”

The passage of this bill highlights the urgent need for innovative solutions to combat hunger and support urban agriculture. The Urban Farming Land Initiative Act represents an important step towards creating a robust framework for urban farming, thereby contributing to the well-being of our communities. With the bill now awaiting the Governor's signature, Assemblyman Santabarbara is optimistic about its enactment and the positive changes it will bring to New York State. He urges the Governor to sign the bill into law, enabling communities to start benefiting from this critical initiative.

Schenectady County Legislator Richard Ruzzo and Chairman of the Capital Region Landbank thanked the Assemblyman for his leadership and said “This legislation, once signed by the Governor, will give Land Banking across the state a new tool to help combat blight and restore neighborhoods to full use. By allowing Land Banks the option to easily transfer property to Food Council representatives in support of local efforts to tamp out food deserts, Assemblyman Santabarbara has once again made neighborhood revitalization and community wellness a priority in his continued commitment to our residents.”

“This bill is the start of change in land acquisition for budding farmers, as well as accessibility to diversify the agricultural field and create pathways for new possibilities and reimagining the future of young farmers,” said Leah Egnaczyk, Farms Manager for Sycamore Collaborative. “I am excited to see this legislation through and proud of my colleagues on the Schenectady County Food Council for all of the work that they have done to make this happen.”

“Born from resident input, this bill tackles food security head-on by supporting current farmers and inspiring others to start,” said Sofia Pawlusik, Coordinator of the Schenectady County Food Council. “It will increase access to urban green spaces and empower residents to grow their own food, making a real impact on our community. It's a step towards our vision of a community-driven food system.”