There are many hot button issues that plague a city as dense as New York, and one of the most urgent is food availability. At a Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship (CUBE) event in the spring, Tatiana Pawlowski ’17 presented a white paper, “From Food Deserts to Just Deserts: Expanding Urban Agriculture in New York City Through Sustainable Policy,” that could help the city better tackle the complex issue that is urban agriculture. Pawlowski focused particularly on the phenomenon commonly known as “food deserts,” or urban areas where access to fresh, healthful food is scarce.

Pawlowski’s research began in 2015, and she credits Adjunct Professor Ira Goldberg for recommending that she and other students explore urban agriculture and the law. Their interest in urban agriculture, zoning law, and the legislative process led to several meetings with the Brooklyn Borough President’s Policy Office, discussions with policy experts, political leaders, urban agriculture innovators, and finally Pawlowski’s independent study. “Real estate has always been my passion,” said Pawlowski. “I was particularly excited to learn about how much zoning and land use policy can affect urban agriculture.”

Pawlowski’s white paper analyzed how other cities in the U.S. tend to their urban agriculture needs, and made suggestions for how New York City can employ its own policies. Pawlowski then used the findings as a guide for her presentation at CUBE’s spring event titled, “Growing Greens in the Grid: The Future of Urban Agriculture in NYC." In July, the white paper was cited in a Wall Street Journal story about challenges to growing successful urban agriculture businesses. New York City has the biggest urban agriculture system in the country, including many “vertical farms,” but urban growers still struggle because of a lack of regulations.

Pawlowski looks back at this experience as a very fulfilling one. “Having the opportunity to share some of my findings and recommendations with Brooklyn’s local politicians who are dedicated to promoting the vitality of Brooklyn communities through nutrition, education, and job growth has been both humbling and rewarding for me,” she said.

Pawlowski recently joined Braverman Greenspun as an associate to focus her career in real estate law while staying involved with urban agriculture policy research and advocacy on her own time. Her paper will be published in an upcoming volume of the American Bar Association’s Journal of Affordable Housing and Community Development Law.