About the Project

Five Borough Farm, a project of the Design Trust for Public Space, offers a roadmap to farmers and gardeners, City officials, and other stakeholders to understand and weigh the benefits of urban agriculture. Phase I (2009-12) was conducted in partnership with Added Value. Phase II (September 2012 - March 2014) was conducted in partnership with the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation. Phase III, in collaboration with Farming Concrete, will run from March through December 2014.

Need for Five Borough Farm

Urban agriculture is booming in New York City, with more than 700 food-producing urban farms and gardens citywide. In all five boroughs, New Yorkers have turned vacant lots and rooftops, schoolyards and NYCHA gardens into places to grow food.  But urban agriculture also encompasses a wide range of other activities: participants earn income at farmers markets, capture stormwater, compost food waste, gain leadership and job skills, learn about nutrition and the environment, and create safe, attractive public spaces. These activities contribute to many citywide health, social, economic, and ecological benefits, as well as to the goals of municipal agencies and elected officials.

Yet while many government agencies are engaged in urban agriculture, there is no citywide policy or plan to coordinate actions across agencies, and few systematic efforts to track the full range of urban agricultural activities that take place at the city’s farms and gardens.

Project Origins

In 2009, the Design Trust for Public Space issued an open call for projects to improve public space in New York City, receiving twenty submissions from organizations citywide. The nonprofit organization Added Value (with the assistance of the design firm thread collective) submitted a proposal to address urban agriculture. This proposal was one of two selected by an independent jury of architects, policy experts, open space advocates, and Design Trust board members for the Design Trust to take on as a project.

Project Goals

  1. Survey and document New York City's existing urban agricultural activity using photographs, maps, and infographics.
  2. Establish a shared framework and tools to enable farmers and gardeners to track urban agricultural activity and evaluate their social, health, economic, and ecological benefits.
  3. Develop policy recommendations that will help make urban agriculture a more permanent part of the city's landscape and governance.

Project Methods

Five Borough Farm demonstrates the effectiveness of the Design Trust's unique approach. For this project, the Design Trust assembled a multidisciplinary team of Project Fellows to lead the research, including experts in food policy, sustainable design, and public health evaluation, as well as a graphic designer and photographer. 

The Five Borough Farm team conducted extensive research and outreach to gather and synthesize information about urban agriculture in New York City. This process included:

  • engaging over 100 key stakeholders throughout the process to shape and inform the project
  • conducting extensive research and outreach to gather and synthesize information about urban agriculture in New York City, including 60 individual site visits
  • convening a large-scale participatory workshop for more than 90 farmers and gardeners, support organizations, and funders
  • leading advisory groups throughout the project to provide ongoing feedback
  • conducting confidential, one-on-one interviews with key representatives from four major stakeholder groups: farmers and gardeners, funders, support organizations, and governmental agencies (learn more about these stakeholder groups)
  • using several different media to communicate findings to a broad, diverse audience
  • identifying the urban agriculture community's leading priorities, opportunities, and challenges
  • producing recommendations and tools that could be used to affect concrete change in the city’s urban agriculture policies and practices
  • developing an Indicator Guide with dozens of health, social, ecologicial, and economic indicators
  • developing infographics illustrating key elements of the urban agriculture system in New York City, and explaining key policy and metrics concepts
  • photographing over 100 farms and gardens throughout the five boroughs of New York City.

Project Support

Five Borough Farm was made possible through the generous support of:


Project Advisory Committee

  • John Ameroso, Cornell Cooperative Extension
  • Jacqui Berger, Just Food
  • Ray Figueroa, Friends of Brook Park
  • Yonette Fleming, Hattie Carthan Community Garden
  • Anthony Giancatarino, Center for Social Inclusion
  • Regina Ginyard, La Finca del Sur
  • Robert Jackson, Bed-Stuy Farm at the Brooklyn Rescue Mission
  • Aley Kent, Heifer International
  • Ian Marvy, Added Value
  • Annie Novak, Rooftop Farms
  • Steve Perry, John Bowne High School
  • Edie Stone, GreenThumb, NYC Dept. of Parks & Recreation
  • David Vigil, East New York Farms
  • Karen Washington, New York City Community Garden Coalition / La Familia Verde

Policy Working Group

  • Sarah Brannen, Center for an Urban Future
  • Robert Jackson, Bed-Stuy Farm at the Brooklyn Rescue Mission
  • Holly Leicht, New Yorkers for Parks
  • Edie Stone, GreenThumb, NYC Dept. of Parks & Recreation
  • Karen Washington, New York City Community Garden Coalition / La Familia Verde 

Metrics Working Group

  • Ray Figueroa, Friends of Brook Park
  • Nualla Gallagher, Cypress Hills Development Corporation
  • Mara Gittleman, Farming Concrete
  • Ian Marvy, Added Value
  • Stacey Murphy, BK Farmyards
  • David Vigil, East New York Farms

About the Design Trust for Public Space

Since 1995, the Design Trust for Public Space has been at the forefront of shaping New York City's public realm. We are a nonprofit organization that works collaboratively with community groups, city agencies, and private-sector experts to improve public space for all New Yorkers.

One of the Design Trust's core values is that "social justice and environmental sustainability must guide public space design." Throughout our organization's 17-year history, no other project has embodied this value more than Five Borough Farm. With the release of the publication, Five Borough Farm: Seeding the Future of Urban Agriculture in New York City, and this companion website, the Design Trust continues its dedicated efforts to make New York City a more environmentally sustainable, dynamic, and healthy city for generations to come.

About Added Value

Added Value is a non-profit organization promoting the sustainable development of Red Hook by nurturing a new generation of young leaders. They work towards this goal by creating opportunities for the youth of South Brooklyn to expand their knowledge base, develop new skills and positively engage with their community through the operation of a socially responsible urban farming enterprise.

Project Participants

Five Borough Farm would not have been possible without the generosity and expertise of many individuals. The Design Trust for Public Space and the Project Fellows would like to extend their sincere appreciation to all of the following for their assistance and thoughtful guidance.

Urban Farmers and Community Gardeners

  • John Ameroso, Gericke Farms
  • Elizabeth Bee Ayer, BK Farmyards
  • Bea Brown, Drew Gardens
  • Micheline Brown, Warren/St. Mark’s Community Garden
  • Michelle Brown, River Garden
  • Harry Bubbins, Friends of Brook Park
  • Emmaline Carter, 211th Street Community Garden
  • Anastasia Cole, Brooklyn Grange
  • Ray Figueroa, Friends of Brook Park
  • Ben Flanner, Brooklyn Grange
  • Sean-Michael Fleming, The Secret Garden Farm & Nature Preserve
  • Yonette Fleming, Hattie Carthan Community Farm
  • Wayne Fleshman, Temple of David Community Garden
  • Julie Forgione, River Garden
  • Regina Ginyard, La Finca del Sur
  • Joe Guimento, River Garden
  • Beverly Isis, Choosing Healthy & Active Lifestyles for Kids
  • Devanie Jackson, Bed-Stuy Farm at the Brooklyn Rescue Mission
  • Robert Jackson, Bed-Stuy Farm at the Brooklyn Rescue Mission
  • Kennon Kay, Queens County Farm Museum
  • Frieda Lim, Slippery Slope Farm
  • Christian Mora, EcoStation NY / Bushwick Farmers Market
  • Will Morgan, Little Green Acre
  • Annie Moss, La Finca Del Sur
  • Stacey Murphy, BK Farmyards / High School for Public Service
  • Annie Novak, Rooftop Farms
  • Phyllis Odessey, Randall's Island Park
  • Steve Perry, John Bowne High School
  • Viraj Puri, Gotham Greens
  • Leah Retherford, Queens County Farm Museum
  • Kristin Schafenacker, Added Value
  • Philip Silva, Prospect Heights Community Farm / Brooklyn Botanical Gardens
  • Rocio Silverio, La Finca Del Sur
  • Jenna Spevack, New York City College of Technology
  • Abu Talib, Taqwa Community Garden
  • Vandra Thornburn, Greene Acres
  • David Vigil, East New York Farms
  • Karen Washington, New York City Community Garden Coalition / La Familia Verde
  • Jonathan Wilson, Project EATS Active Citizen Project
  • Sheila Yappow, Essex Community Garden

Nonprofit Organizations, Advocates and Institutions

  • Kubi Ackerman, Columbia University Urban Design Lab
  • Holley Atkinson, Slow Food NYC
  • Jessica Bartolini, Chhaya Community Development Corporation
  • Andrew Bowman, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
  • Daniel Bowman Simon, TheWhoFarm (The White House Organic Farm Project)
  • Wendy Brawer, Green Map System
  • Ursula Chanse, Bronx Green-Up, New York Botanical Garden
  • Skye Cornell, Wholesome Wave
  • Marissa DeDominicis, Earth Matter
  • Derek Denckla, Farm City Fund
  • Tanya Fields, The BLK Project
  • Rosalind Francis, Harlem Seeds
  • Taireina Gilbert, Loisaida Inc.
  • Christina Giorgio, Urban Transformers
  • Mara Gittleman, Farming Concrete
  • Denise Hoffman-Brandt, City College of New York Graduate Landscape Architecture Program
  • Hugh Hogan, North Star Fund
  • Michelle Hughes, New Farmer Development Project, GrowNYC
  • Debra Italiano, Garden Labs NY / Garden Direct
  • Kelli Jordan, Farming Concrete
  • Claudia Joseph, Old Stone House
  • Terry Kaelber, Healthy Communities Through Healthy Food
  • Erica Keberle, GrowNYC
  • Aley Kent, Heifer International
  • Susannah Laskaris, landscape designer & garden services
  • Lenny Librizzi, GrowNYC
  • Adam Liebowitz, THE POINT Community Development Corporation
  • Chaquita McCullough, Harlem Seeds
  • Sandra McLean, Slow Food NYC
  • Joanne Morse, Trust for Public Land
  • Pamela Nathenson, Fund for Public Health
  • Jessica Nizar, Fifth Avenue Committee
  • George Pisegna, Horticultural Society of New York
  • Anne Pope, Sustainable Flatbush
  • Vicki Sando, P.S. 41
  • Marianna Schaffer, David Rockefeller Fund
  • Andy Stone, Trust for Public Land
  • Owen Taylor, Just Food
  • Sophia Vincent Guy, Garden Direct
  • Ashley Wilhite, New York Restoration Project
  • Toya Williford, Brooklyn Community Foundation
  • Rebecca Wolf, Queens Botanical Garden
  • Christine Yu, NYC Food and Fitness Partnership
  • Angelo Zaharatos, Garden Direct
  • Kolu Zigbie, Jesse Smith Noyes Foundation

Government Officials

  • Sabrina Baronberg, Department of Health & Human Services
  • Adrian Benepe, Department of Parks & Recreation
  • Rob Bennaton, New York City Housing Authority
  • David Bragdon, Mayor’s Office of Long Term Planning & Sustainability
  • Randy Fong, Department of Citywide Administrative Services
  • Evan George, Department of Parks & Recreation
  • Cristina Grace, New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets
  • Liam Kavanagh, Department of Parks & Recreation
  • Kim Kessler, Mayor’s Office of Operations           
  • Margarita Lopez, New York City Housing Authority
  • Caroline Mees, GreenThumb
  • Whitney Reuling, Garden to School Cafe
  • Edie Stone, GreenThumb
  • Alison Tocci, City Parks Foundation
  • Angela Tolosa, NYC Department of Corrections
  • Lee Trotman, New York City Housing Authority