The first phase developed policy and metrics recommendations to support and grow urban agriculture in NYC in partnership with Added Value. To work towards implementation of our key policy and metrics goals, we partnered with the NYC Parks Department on a second phase of the project. Now in its third and final phase, we are working with Farming Concrete to scale up urban agriculture in NYC.
In Five Borough Farm: Phase II, we found that the number of food-producing farms and gardens in New York City has grown from approximately 700 to 900 over the last two years. This 28% increase is due in part to new farms and gardens, but also to the lack of coordinated data on urban agriculture in NYC.
Five Borough Farm: Phase III will tackle both challenges: equipping a large number of farmers and gardeners with the first publicly accessible Data Collection Toolkit while also forging connections with the City and funding institutions to develop sustainable models of support for urban agriculture.
At the outset of Five Borough Farm, we found very little data to substantiate the benefits of urban agriculture. Though many scholars had written papers connecting typical farming and gardening activities to potential types of impact, there were no studies that had systematically measured how farms and gardens contribute value to our communities and the city as a whole.
Of the 19 indicators outlined in the Five Borough Farm Metrics Framework, approximately half were supported in part by evidence. More specifically, only 20 of the proposed 172 links between urban agriculture activities and health, social, economic, and ecological benefits were evidence-based. By equipping farmers and gardeners with the tools to collect this information for the benefit of their garden, this body of data will also assist practitioners in advocating for change in city policy.
Together with our two community collaborators, will achieve two goals in this final phase of Five Borough Farm:
1. Increase the quantity of data on urban agriculture in NYC
In Phase II, Outreach Fellows Liz Barry and Phil Silva collaborated with Farming Concrete to develop a robust set of protocols to quantify the myriad benefits farms and gardens offer NYC, and recruited 30 farmers and gardeners to field test the tools over the 2014 growing season.
2. Identify sustainable funding models for urban agriculture
We will continue to work with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation to reconvene the Urban Agriculture Task Force in the new city administration. The Task Force will devote its work to seeking out alternative sources and developing sustainable funding models for New York City’s farms and gardens at quarterly meetings in 2014.
In Phase III, the project team will: