4 Types of Urban Agriculture

Each urban agriculture project arises in response to the particular needs and opportunities of a given community, organization, or site. No two growing spaces are alike—they may be maintained by volunteers or paid staff, have budgets of a couple hundred or hundreds of thousands of dollars, and be affiliated with one of a dozen different entities that control the land. For the purposes of this project, four types of urban agriculture sites were identified: institutional farms and gardens, commercial farms, community gardens, and community farms. While each type has specific characteristics, many farms and gardens share similar goals and practices, blurring simple boundaries.

Institutional Farms and Gardens

Commercial Farms

Community Gardens

Community Farms

Affiliated with an institution (such as hospitals, churches, prisons, schools, public housing) whose primary mission is not food production, but which have goals that urban agriculture supports.

In general, commercial farmers try to maximize crop performance in order to achieve profitability, however, some share many of the health and ecological goals of the broader urban agriculture community.

Virtually all of the city’s 490 community gardens are located on publicly-owned land or land trusts. Typically managed by local resident volunteers, roughly 80% of these gardens grow food.

Tend to be communal growing spaces operated by a nonprofit organization that engages the surrounding community in food production but also social and educational programming.

There are an estimated 289 New York City schools with active gardens, of which, 117 grow food [GrowNYC, August 2011].


According to New York City Housing Authority [NYCHA] staff, public housing residents maintain approximately 600 gardens, of which, 245 grow food.


Other institutional farms and gardens in New York City are a 2.5 acre on Rikers Island, a farm on the roof of the Bowery Mission, and a rooftop garden at Georgia's Place, a supportive housing facility in Crown Heights.

As of July 2012, there were only three for-profit farms in New York City: Eagle Street Rooftop Farm in Greenpoint, Brooklyn; Brooklyn Grange and Gotham Greens, both in Long Island City, Queens.

There are more than 490 community gardens in New York City, covering just under 100 acres in total area [Urban Design Lab, 2011]. Most of these gardens provide space for several different activites, including growing vegetables and flowers, as well as providing gathering space for socializing.

Examples of community farms in New York City include: Added Value's Red Hook Community Farm, Bed Stuy farm, East New York Farm, Hands and Heart Garden, Hattie Carthan Community Garden, and La Finca del Sur.

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