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In the News: How We’re Imagining the Future of Urban Agriculture

In 2019, our director Anu Ranjarajan, and Molly Riordan, now an urban agriculture specialist with our program, published a report titled “The Promise of Urban Agriculture.” This report was drawn from data collected from a wide network of active urban growers was designed to further augment our Urban Ag project.

Over the past two years, this report has allowed us to broaden its support for urban agricultural initiatives across New York State, which was recently highlighted in a Cornell Daily Sun article.

Up until “The Promise of Urban Agriculture” being published, much of the existing research focused on the impact of urban agriculture on social indicators such as community development and educational attainment. However, the viability of an urban farm depends on factors such as the laws and regulations of a municipality, the availability and affordability of land, and opportunities available for season extension, Riodan told the Cornell Daily Sun.

With this new data, we have been able to tailor our urban agriculture advocacy to the needs of active growers. Partnering with Rooted, an urban agriculture training organization, the Urban Ag project has started to introduce training for urban farmers to help improve commercial viability. We are also paying special attention to one of the major challenges for urban farmers, which is urban land access. 

“Knowing that urban growers struggle for access to land, especially Black, Indigenous, immigrant and other farmers of color, institutions can do more to lift up their voices and put the weight and the funding of the institutions behind BIPOC farmers’ fight for land access and other resources in both urban and rural spaces,” Riordan told the Cornell Daily Sun

With this information in mind, we are looking forward to providing increasingly dynamic and relevant information to urban growers in New York State. 

Talia Isaacson

Talia is originally from San Diego, CA, but her passion for agriculture mostly developed on the coast of Maine, where she lived and worked on an educational diversified farm throughout parts of her high school years. Since then, Talia has spent time working on various farms in both Vermont and Arkansas, which has further solidified her interest in small-scale agriculture and its myriad intersections with community welfare, environmental sustainability, and education. She is a senior in the English department at Cornell and began working for the Cornell Small Farms Program in early 2018. Talia also works for the Local & Regional Food Systems initiative.