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Executive Summary

Five Borough Farm, a project of the Design Trust for Public Space, offers a roadmap to farmers and gardeners, City officials, and other stakeholders to understand and weigh the benefits of urban agriculture.

Phase I (2009-12) was conducted in partnership with Added Value and resulted in the publication of the most comprehensive overview of New York City's urban agriculture activity to date.  Phase II (launched September 2012) is being conducted in partnership with the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation.

What follows is an abbreviated version of the Executive Summary from the publication. For the full Executive Summary, please buy the book.

Urban Agriculture In NYC

  • There are more than 700 farms and gardens citywide that grow food.
  • Urban agriculture is about much more than just growing food.
  • Farmers and gardeners face challenges obtaining critical resources.
  • There are race- and class-based disparities that hinder access to information, services, and funding among farmers and gardeners.
  • There are few coordinated efforts in NYC to track urban agricultural activities or evaluate their benefits.
  • City agencies generally lack the authority and resources to address urban agriculture.

Metrics

Numerous studies have demonstrated that urban agricultural activities improve healthy eating, increase physical activity, provide employment opportunities, and build community cohesiveness. However, very little of that work focuses specifically on New York City, or develops measures that can demonstrate benefits at a neighborhood as well as a citywide scale, and ultimately inform the decision-making of elected officials and agency commissioners.

The Metrics chapter in the publication establishes a framework to understand how the broad range of activities taking place at the city’s farms and gardens can contribute to social, health, economic, and ecological outcomes. Also included are more than forty “indicators,” or signs of progress and change, that farmers and gardeners can track. Ultimately, data collected using these indicators could inform citywide urban agriculture policy.

Based on the priorities and capacity of the vast majority of the city’s farms and gardens, two types of indicators are recommended:

  1. Indicators to track the scope, scale, and geographic concentration of urban agricultural activities

  2. Indicators to track outcomes such as health and behavorial changes


Policy

The Policy chapter in the publication includes recommendations to integrate urban agriculture more fully into New York City's physical landscape and government; coordinate actions across multiple agencies; and leverage existing investment and programs to address pressing municipal goals. These recommendations build on existing policy documents, such as PlaNYC (Mayor Michael Bloomberg's citywide sustainability plan), and FoodWorks (City Council Speaker Christine Quinn's citywide food policy platform. The recommendations are organized into four main categories:

  1. Formalize government support for urban agriculture

  2. Integrate urban agriculture into City policies and plans

  3. Identify innovative opportunities to build urban agriculture into the cityscape

  4. Address race- and class-based disparities in New York City's urban agriculture community