Theses Master's

Distribution, Benefits, Challenges, and Recommendations of Urban Agriculture in New York City

Lin, Ruoran

Urban Agriculture (UA) is a widely considered food policy strategy to address local food issues. A heated discussion is ongoing among city politicians, farmers and gardeners, community members and other stakeholders about whether the benefits of UA outweigh its challenges, and whether to develop or abandon a comprehensive UA plan. Employing a two-step, quantitative-qualitative method at the macro and micro scales, this study attempts to make a meaningful contribution to this debate through a full-range evaluation of UA distribution and sustainability in New York City (NYC), which has the largest number of urban agriculture projects in the nation. First, this study explored the spatial pattern of citywide UA distribution, conducted a descriptive analysis of UA performance, and examined the statistical association between UA sustainable development and 25 influential indicators in terms of demography, environment, economy, and equity. Second, it investigated two case studies, the individual urban farm and community garden, to provide in-depth insights into UA benefits and challenges. This study concluded that UA’s distribution in NYC had specific spatial clustering patterns in the South Bronx and northern Brooklyn. Citywide UA made contributions to society through its mature Community-Supported Agriculture networks, its huge green-industry educational programs, and its high eco-value circulation systems. The city was faced with UA challenges in terms of immigrant separation, non-significant economic contributions, land shortage, health imbalance, and crime occurrence. For future UA development and regulations, the recommendations were to construct an accurate and complete UA database, amend the UA zoning ordinances, promote citywide cooperation, ensure a multiple-stakeholder process, ensure social equity, and address the land demand conflicts between UA and other land use activities.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Hutson, Malo A.
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
June 29, 2018