Urban Ag

Project Lead: Anu Rangarajan

In the shadow of New York City’s Hell Gate Bridge, Cornell Cooperative Extension urban agriculture specialists Yolanda Gonzalez, left, and Sam Anderson, center scout for harlequin bugs and consult with farmers at Randall's Island Urban Farm in New York City.
R.J. Anderson / Cornell Cooperative Extension

Are you an existing or aspiring urban farmer?  

Urban farms can not only be commercially viable and economically self-sufficient small  farm businesses, they also offer a multitude of quality of life benefits for community residents. These farms serve to build community cohesion, teach about food and farming, connect urban and rural producers, and generate fresh produce (and sometimes meat) for local eaters. 

Building a successful commercial urban farm requires careful consideration of unique issues created by farming in the urban environment.

Learn about success stories as well as resources to build your urban farm.

The Promise of Urban Agriculture Curriculum

Understand the practices and policies that support successful urban farming endeavors.

Our work on Realizing the Promise of Urban Agriculture (RPUA), started in October 2020, to create trainings and educational resources for multiple audiences engaged in urban agriculture and, specifically, commercial urban agriculture. Based on the 2019 report, “The Promise of Urban Agriculture,” RPUA draws on the evolution of 14 urban farms, and insights from over 150 policy-makers, urban planners, funders, and nonprofit and community organizers engaged in local food systems and urban farming to uncover the policies, resources, and future research and development needed to support the successful development of commercial urban farms.

The project engages 10 advisors from across the country, and piloted trainings in 2021 and 2022 for an urban ag curriculum that we launched in the summer of 2024. These courses provide critical information for building or supporting successful urban farms.

Our introductory enrollment offer allows free access to these courses until December 31, 2024.

Courses for Growers & Planners

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PUA 101: Deciding Where to Farm in the City

Creating a Commercial Urban Farm with Community in Mind. Identify the key physical, economic, and social factors to be included...
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PUA 102: Urban Farm Planning and Management

How to Have an Economically Viable Urban Farm. Choosing a business model, knowing when to expand the farm, crop planning,...
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PUA 103: Urban Farming by Community Nonprofits

Operating an Urban Farm as a Nonprofit. Learn from the urban farming nonprofit "Rooted" based in Madison, Wisconsin, and others.
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PUA 201: Urban Agriculture Skills for Planners

Structures, Approaches and Policies for Urban Agriculture to be Incorporated into Planning Practice. Strategies for community engagement, comprehensive planning, zoning...

News and Updates

Creating Farms on Concrete, Rubble, and Roofs

By Daisy Bow | April 2, 2011

The Story of New York City’s Newest Farmers When anyone thinks about New York City, fixtures like concrete sidewalks, skyscrapers, large office buildings, heavy traffic, storefronts, and subway stations come…

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Urban Farmer Backlash: Too Much of a Good Thing?

By Derek Denckla | January 9, 2011

Recently, urban agriculture seems to have achieved a milestone– being lampooned. The blog Daily Candy featured “DIY Halloween Costumes” in which suggestion No. 4 was “Urban Farmer,” recommending a three…

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Aeroponics: a piece of the urban farming jigsaw puzzle?

By Aaron Munzer | October 3, 2010

Ed Harwood is willing to concede that many folks think of urban farming as raised beds on vacant lots. But he also thinks there’s another way to grow vegetables in…

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About Urban Ag

More details about this emerging new project is coming soon...

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Anu was appointed director the Cornell Small Farms Program in 2004. At the same time, she opened a U-pick strawberry farm in Freeville, NY. The experience of operating a small farm changed her entire approach to research and extension, and deepened her commitment to NY farms and local food systems.

Read Articles by Anu Rangarajan


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