Five Borough Farm 2009–2015

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. 

  1. Phase I
  2. Phase II
  3. Phase III
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Photo: Rob Stephenson 

Five Borough Farm: Phase II, conducted in partnership with the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation, builds on the policy and metrics recommendations developed in the first phase in order to strengthen and expand urban agriculture in NYC. 


Five Borough Farm: Phase I  found a groundswell of demand for urban agriculture citywide, as New Yorkers have reclaimed every kind of marginal and leftover space to grow food. However, several critical issues must be addressed in order for urban agriculture to achieve its full potential in New York City, including access to city-owned land, the availability of funding and essential materials such as soil and compost, and the economic development potential of the city’s farms and gardens.

Two key obstacles currently prevent government officials from developing a long-range, citywide urban agriculture plan or making large-scale resource commitments: a lack of evidence demonstrating urban agriculture’s value to the city, and the absence of a structure or process to coordinate actions across multiple agencies and engage key stakeholders in decision-making. Phase II aims to address these obstacles by: 

  • Building a coalition of urban agriculture stakeholders to coordinate activity and inform citywide policy.
  • Promoting innovative land-use solutions to support urban agricultural activity citywide.
  • Measuring the impacts of urban agriculture in New York City by developing user-friendly data collection tools that will enable farmers and gardeners to quantitatively demonstrate their outcomes and output to the city.


Working with a new team of Fellows with expertise in community engagement, data collection, land use policy, and green infrastructure, we:

  • Organized and convened an Urban Agriculture Task Force with the Parks Department to discuss land availability, funding for urban agriculture, jobs programs and soil and compost 
  • Created two short videos about land use issues in NYC and how collecting data can help farmers and gardeners measure and demonstrate the impact of their activities
  • Conducted over 30 stakeholder interviews with farmers, gardeners, and government agencies
  • Assessed the suitability of city-owned land for urban agriculture
  • Held two workshops to test and refine the types of data that were the most meaningful to the urban agriculture community
  • Recruited a large group of farmers and gardeners to field test the data collection toolkit during their growing season
  • Enhanced the existing online data platform at

The final project publication, Five Borough Farm II: Growing the Benefits of Urban Agriculture in New York City, proposes ways of better understanding and demonstrating the benefits of urban agriculture, recommends strategies for farmers and gardeners, support organizations, and government agencies to maximize these benefits, and explores the potential for expanding the types and scale of urban agriculture in the city.

Key Milestones

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Launch Phase II

September 2012

We form a partnership with the NYC Department of the Parks & Recreation for this new phase of the project. 

Define scope

October 2012

Together with our Partner, we determine the scope, schedule, and budget for the project. 

Assemble team

November 2012

We select a new team of Fellows for this second phase: 

Photo: Caroline Bauer 

Create Task Force

January 2013

The urban agriculture task force meets quarterly to discuss topics like land use and availability, funding, job training, and compost.    

Photo: Caroline Bauer 

Build team of beta-testers

March 2013

Approximately 30 farmers and gardeners from across the five boroughs of NYC commit to collecting data.     

Photo: Caroline Bauer 

Gather community input

May 2013

Gardeners and farmers discuss the types of things they want to measure in their gardens. 

Photo: Caroline Bauer 


June 2013

The  Outreach Fellows distribute the draft data collection toolkit and the necessary equipment to 30 gardens around NYC.     

Photo: Liz Barry 


September 2013

The team and staff work to synthesize the research, findings, and feedback from farmers and gardeners. 

Photo: Liz Barry 

Peer review

October 2013

The core group of farmers and gardeners field testing the data toolkit reconvenes in October, six months after the first workshop, to provide feedback about the toolkit.

Photo: Liz Barry 

Produce deliverables

December 2013

The project team finalizes their recommendations and begins working on the final project publication. 

Release findings

March 2014

The project publication, Five Borough Farm II: Growing the Benefits of Urban Agriculture in New York City, is released at the NYC Parks Department headquarters in Central Park. Read about the event. 

Photo: Sam Lahoz

Begin Phase III

April 2014

The third and final phase of our Five Borough Farm project will increase the amount of data available on urban agriculture in NYC and identify sustainable funding models for farmers and gardeners to continue their work.