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
5BF umbrella
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Community Collaborators

NYC Department of Parks & Recreation and Farming Concrete

Project Area: Five Boroughs

Recent Output

Recent Activity

The Latest News

New Legislation Pushes to Expand Urban Agriculture

September 24, 2018

Workshops & Forums

Five Borough Farm Workshop at Flux Factory

Saturday, February 28, 2015 @ 1:00 PM

The Latest Press

Photo: Rob Stephenson

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.

Project Goals

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: 

  • Refine the Five Borough Farm data collection protocols: Detailed instructions and equipment lists for collecting data on a newly expanded set of methods will include ways of tracking rainwater harvesting, market sales, and donated goods. The manual will be designed to be easily downloadable and printed on a home computer
  • Expand We will collaborate with Farming Concrete to expand, the only data aggregation site for food production in NYC, equipping the site with capabilities for farmers and gardeners to download the protocols and track data, generate reports with features including data analysis and photos, and create groups to share data, knowledge, and assets. The site will feature the first-ever public urban agriculture data interface for researchers and policymakers, with expanded aggregation and reporting capabilities
  • Produce a mini-series of instructional videos: Video Fellow Chris Englese will create videos for how to use each protocol to collect data in the field and then input the information into
  • Provide ongoing technical support: Sheryll Durrant, a participant in the initial Toolkit development, will join the Fellow team to train more farmers and gardeners on how to use the Toolkit and provide ongoing technical support from May to December 2014

Design Trust is setting an important example for non-profit community workers of all shapes and sizes: namely, that running a creative, independent project doesn’t mean you can’t adopt the hard scientific methods used by big institutions.


Lead Sponsor

Additional Support

Project Supporters


  • Florence V. Burden Foundation