Airports and Urban Farming

Katrina Ceguera tends JetBlue's farm outside Terminal 5 at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport. PHOTO: Chelsea Brodsky /JetBlue

Katrina Ceguera tends JetBlue’s farm outside Terminal 5 at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. PHOTO: Chelsea Brodsky /JetBlue

Airports are growing a ‘green’ conscience, and how! If Kochi in Kerala, India is home to the world’s first airport to be completely powered by solar energy, then the Galapagos airstrip is not far behind. Going off-grid is just one way to offset massive carbon footprints left behind by the use of fossil fuels. Another way might be to add a touch of green – like JetBlue did at the New York airport.

JetBlue was intent on growing potatoes and other produce at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. It took three years of jumping through hoops before the T5 Farm, named for its location outside Terminal 5, came to fruition in early October, the company says.

“If it sounds crazy from the outside, it sounds mind-blowingly dumb inside an airport community. A lot of people raised their eyebrows,” Sophia Mendelsohn, JetBlue’s manager of sustainability, says. But she decided to go for it anyway, in part because the company was already making soil with composted JetBlue food waste in the Hudson Valley. The goal of the unusual new tarmac farm? To promote “urban agriculture, supply local schoolchildren with a living laboratory about healthy food, give free produce to our crew members and add a literal green space to the customer experience,” she tells The Salt.

The 24,000-square-foot space has been planted with mint, kale, carrots, arugula, ginger, lavender and herbs. But the No. 1 crop is blue potatoes. The company says it hopes the farm will produce 1,000 pounds of them per harvest to use in the TERRA Blues potato chips served on board.

But who exactly might be cooking from this airport farm?

Don’t get your hopes up, JetBlue fliers. You won’t be able to pick a sprig of lavender or peruse the kale before your flight. For now, the company says passengers won’t be eating anything from the farm other than the potatoes in a small number of TERRA chips.

The farm will be open to JetBlue employees who work at the airport, and in the future, local children.

“Airports are like small cities. We wanted to give the community around the airport a positive way to engage with the space,” says Mendelsohn.

Read more here.

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