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Urban Agriculture



Riverpark Farm, New York City, urban agriculture
Photo: Courtesy of Riverpark Farm at Alexandria Center.

Urban agriculture is reshaping our cities, and urban farmers and gardeners are creating new opportunities for increasing the economic, social, and environmental effects of growing food in and around cities. There are many benefits to growing food in urban areas, and these benefits are being realized by communities, policy makers, and food-system entrepreneurs. As a result, access to land, capital, and markets is creating the necessary environment for farmers to manage a profitable urban farm. This section provides information and resources specific to urban agriculture. It includes information on community gardens, as well as information for helping urban farmers manage risks associated with farming urban soils.


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General Overview



⇒ ATTRA Publications


High Tunnels in Urban Agriculture - IP524

PDF Price: FREE

 • Summary • Download PDF  • Buy Print Copy
Agrihoods: Development-Supported Agriculture - IP515

PDF Price: FREE

 • Summary • Download PDF  • Buy Print Copy
Start a Farm in the City - IP350

PDF Price: FREE

 • Summary • Download PDF  • Buy Print Copy
Urban Agriculture in the United States: Baseline Findings of a Nationwide Survey - IP527

PDF Price: FREE

 • Summary  •  Download PDF  • Buy Print Copy
Vertical Farming - IP516

PDF Price: FREE

 • Summary  • View as a web page  • Download PDF  • Buy Print Copy

⇒ ATTRA Webinars/Videos


Managing Risks on an Urban Farm [YouTube Video]
This webinar focuses on the risk management strategies of two urban farms – City Roots Urban Farm in Columbia, South Carolina, and Newton Community Farm in Newton, Massachusetts – and how they have overcome several of the barriers facing urban farmers today.

Urban Farms: Commercial Farms or Socially Minded Operations? [YouTube Video]
Recently, policymakers, including those residing in cities, began embracing local food systems as a solution to a myriad of urban problems, including lack of green space and a dearth of healthy food availability. As part of this shift in policy, cities and other jurisdictions have embraced production in the urban environment.



⇒ Additional Resources


United States Environmental Protection Agency - Urban Agriculture Resources and Related Links
Site provides resources related to urban agriculture.

Investing in Healthy, Sustainable Places through Urban Agriculture [PDF]
Information on urban agriculture for the production of food for personal consumption, education, donation, or sale and includes associated physical and organizational infrastructure, policies, and programs within urban and suburban environments.

University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
This site offers resources identified as most useful for urban farmers and local decision makers and stakeholders.

The Guide to Urban Farming in New York State
This Guide is meant to address the changing face of the agricultural industry, and to support farmers producing food in urban centers and on the urban fringe. It is a collection of topical factsheets including resources and information to answer the common questions of urban farmers.

Preliminary Cost-Benefit Analysis for Urban Agriculture [PDF]
Cost-benefit analysis (CBA) can provide a powerful tool for communicating the economic value of urban agriculture to policymakers, funders, and other decision makers. This guide introduces the basics of cost-benefit analysis and prepares urban agriculture practitioners to conduct a preliminary-level CBA.

A Survey of Urban Agriculture Organizations and Businesses in the US and Canada [PDF]
This report summarizes the results of an online survey, conducted during February and March 2013, of 251 groups involved with urban agriculture (UA) projects in approximately 84 cities in the United States and Canada.

Urban Agriculture — Best Practices and Possibilities [PDF]
This report provides an overview of urban agriculture and local food system resources and practices across the United States and parts of Canada, with a primary emphasis on providing resources that can encourage and support urban agriculture in metropolitan areas.

Urban Farming Toolkit
The Urban Farming Toolkit is a digital, visual guide to starting a garden, designed to provide instructions on gardening at any scale for people at all experience levels. The guide takes the reader through the background of urban gardening, how to plan and build a garden, gardening maintenance, and the financial and legal issues relevant to growing an urban garden.




Community Farms, Gardens, and Orchards


Community Farms and Agriculture


⇒ ATTRA Publications


Community Supported Agriculture - IP262

PDF Price: $3.00 for non-members

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⇒ Additional Community Farms and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Resources


The Robyn Van En Center at Wilson College
The Robyn Van En Center provides outreach and works to gain publicity about CSA farms in order to benefit community farmers and communities everywhere.

USDA – Alternative Farming Systems Information Center – Community Supported Agriculture
The Alternative Farming Systems Information Center (AFSIC) specializes in identifying resources about sustainable food systems and practices in support of USDA's effort to ensure a sustainable future for agriculture and farmers worldwide.

Local Harvest: A Multifarm CSA Handbook
This book offers straightforward guidance on cooperative marketing, an innovative practice that is helping CSAs stay strong and viable over the long term. This 130-page book details how farmers in CSA cooperatives can best work together to market their produce, including advice on staffing, volunteer boards, distribution, legal topics and other practical information.

A Farmer's Guide to Marketing through Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) - University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture. [PDF]
Publication provides information that may be helpful to farmers considering the development of a CSA.

The Guide to Financing the Community Supported Farm
The 62-page guide addresses legal, accounting, environmental, and social considerations relevant to pursuing customized financial agreements, and contains examples of farms who have used alternative financing.

Just Food Toolkit: CSA in NYC for Farmers
Online toolkit covering information on CSAs including tips on sizing shares and setting prices.

Growing Sociability: Integrating Communal Spaces with Development
Urban Land Institute article on farm-centered developments.

12 Agrihoods Taking Farm-to-Table Living Mainstream
Agrihoods are housing developments centered around a farm. This article provides information on 12 agrihoods that are either established or planned communities.


Community Gardens and Orchards


⇒ ATTRA Publications


Community Gardening - IP376

PDF Price: $3.00 for non-members

 • Summary  • View as a web page  • Download PDF  • Buy Print Copy
Community Orchards - IP446

PDF Price: $3.00 for non-members

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⇒ Additional Resources


American Community Gardening Association
The Mission of the American Community Gardening Association is to build community by increasing and enhancing community gardening and greening across the United States and Canada.

Community Crops
Community Crops is a non-profit organization that empowers people to grow food through education, experiences and resources.

Community Garden Start-Up Guide by the University of California Cooperative Extension [PDF]
This "Community Garden Start-Up Guide" is intended to help neighborhood groups and organizations along the path to starting and sustaining a community garden.

National Gardening Association
A provider of grants and free materials for educators and families so that they may use gardening as a resource for learning.

USDA – Alternative Farming Systems Information Center – Community Gardening
The Alternative Farming Systems Information Center (AFSIC) specializes in identifying resources about sustainable food systems and practices in support of USDA's effort to ensure a sustainable future for agriculture and farmers worldwide.

Community Gardening Toolkit by the University of Missouri Extension
This guide is intended to be resource for gardeners, garden organizers, Extension staff and other agency professionals who want to start a new community garden, enhance an existing garden, or help community members start and manage their own community garden.




Urban Farm Business Planning and Marketing




⇒ ATTRA Publications


Start a Farm in the City - IP350

PDF Price: $3.95 for non-members

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Marketing Tip Sheets - IP394

PDF Price: $3.00 for non-members

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⇒ Additional Resources

Urban Farm Business Plan Handbook
This handbook provides guidance for developing a business plan for the startup and operation of an urban farm. It focuses on food and non-food related cultivated agriculture. The information provided is applicable regardless of whether the farm is to be operated as a non-profit or for-profit business.

Farming Concrete
The Toolkit helps you track your output to showcase the benefits of your farm or garden, to improve and share your practice, and to raise awareness of your impact to funders and policymakers.

Urban Farm Start-Up Cost Estimate [EXCEL]
Excel Spreadsheet for estimating the costs for starting and operating an urban farm in the first year. Expenses are based on costs experienced in Indianapolis, Indiana. Developed by Purdue Extension - Marion County, South Circle Farm, and Big City Farms.
NOTE: Excel Viewer can be used to open Microsoft Excel Spreadsheets

International Network for Urban Agriculture (INUAg); Business Models
INUAg.org is an up-to-date, organized and searchable, resource for individuals, communities and organizations interested in urban agriculture.




Zoning and Policy




⇒ Additional Resources


Urban Agriculture – A Sixteen City Survey of Urban Agriculture Practices across the Country [PDF]
This report surveys the zoning ordinances of 16 cities and explores how these cities have incorporated urban agriculture into their land use plans.

Good Laws, Good Food: Putting Local Food Policy to Work for Our Communities [PDF]
Toolkit intended to serve as a reference for food policy councils, food advocates, local policymakers, and non-profit entities.

Sample Zoning for Agriculture-Like and Urban Agriculture [PDF]
Developed by Michigan State University Extension, this publication presents a starting point for what aspects of agriculture can be regulated by local government. This is intended for use by local planning and zoning officials and others interested in local government accommodating various local food systems.

Seeding the City—Land Use Policies to Promote Urban Agriculture
This toolkit provides a framework and model language for land use policies that local policymakers can tailor to promote and sustain urban agriculture in their communities.

UrbanAgLaw.org
A Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) website that offers a collection of resources on laws and regulations that regulate who, how, and where urban agriculture can occur.

International Network for Urban Agriculture (INUAg); Policy
INUAg.org is an up-to-date, organized and searchable, resource for individuals, communities and organizations interested in urban agriculture.

Promoting Urban Agriculture through Zoning
Article by the National League of Cities Sustainable Cities Institute that provides great details on the zoning and permitting aspects of urban agriculture and references many nonprofits, markets, farms, government initiatives, plans, and ordinances.

10 American Cities Lead the Way With Urban Agriculture Ordinances
List of ten cities leading the way with innovative urban agriculture ordinances that provide a blueprint for a new economic future grounded in sustainable food production in urban centers.




Urban Soils



⇒ ATTRA Publications


Start a Farm in the City - IP350

PDF Price: $3.95 for non-members

 • Summary • Download PDF  • Buy Print Copy


⇒ Additional Resources


Soils in Urban Agriculture: Testing, Remediation and Best Management Practices for California Community Gardens, School Gardens, and Urban Farms.
This publication outlines strategies for urban soil contamination assessment, remediation, and municipal policy around safe soils for urban agriculture, and offers additional resources for further exploration.

Reusing Potentially Contaminated Landscapes: Growing Gardens in Urban Soils. [PDF]
A fact sheet developed by the EPA to inform urban growers about common soil contaminants, how to reduce exposure to them, how to improve soil conditions, and grow plants safely.

Guide to Soil Testing and Interpreting Results [PDF]
Publication by the Cornell Waste Management Institute with information on testing soils for contaminants. Soil testing methodology, test interpretation, and contaminate exposure limits are covered.

Evaluation of Urban Soils: Suitability for Green Infrastructure or Urban Agriculture [PDF]
This report provides a concise, practical, and scientifically based overview of the typical conditions of urban soils, and offers recommendations for how such soils can be rehabilitated or reconditioned to support green infrastructure or urban agriculture.

Brownfields and Urban Agriculture: Interim Guidelines for Safe Gardening Practices
This document is a condensation of a 2010 conference that outlines the range of issues which need to be addressed in order to safely grow food on former brownfield sites.

Protecting Urban Soil Quality: Examples for Landscape Codes and Specifications [PDF]
USDA-NRCS document that focuses on strategies for preventing damage to soil quality and soil function by targeting critical points in the construction and development process.




Urban Crop and Livestock Production


Urban Crop Production



⇒ ATTRA Publications


Equipment & Tools for Small-Scale Intensive Crop Production - IP417

PDF print price: $7.99 for non-members, PDF digital download: $2.99 for non-members

 • Summary •  Buy a PDF download  •  Get it for Kindle  • Buy Print Copy
Market Gardening: A Start-up Guide - IP195

PDF print price: $5.99 for non-members, PDF download price: $2.99 for non-members

 • Summary •  Buy a PDF download  •  Get it for Kindle  • Buy Print Copy


⇒ ATTRA Webinars/Videos


Tools for Small-Scale Crop Production [YouTube Video]
This webinar, broadcast October 25, 2012, focuses on tools and techniques for small-scale crop production. National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) Agriculture Specialist Andy Pressman discusses the importance of investing in good quality and well-designed tools, their different purposes, and how to use them to properly plant and maintain crops.

Small Hoop House Construction Trick [YouTube Video]
Organic farmer Saul Padilla explains his trick for constructing a small hoop house that is inexpensive and very strong.



⇒ Additional Resources


The Guide to Urban Farming in New York State
This Guide is meant to address the changing face of the agricultural industry, and to support farmers producing food in urban centers and on the urban fringe. It is a collection of topical factsheets including resources and information to answer the common questions of urban farmers.

International Network for Urban Agriculture (INUAg); Production
INUAg.org is an up-to-date, organized and searchable, resource for individuals, communities and organizations interested in urban agriculture.

Intensive Gardening Methods
Virginia Cooperative Extension publication that offers techniques for increasing crop yields.

Yield Expectations for Mixed Stand, Small-Scale Agriculture [PDF]
A briefing from Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station on yield expectations for farms on the urban fringe. High tunnel data is also included.

High Tunnel Production: The Basics for Success and Three Case Studies on Profitability [PDF]
A University of Maryland Extension publication summarizing a SARE-funded study that looked at high tunnel profitability. The results show that high tunnels are especially profitable when located close to good markets, such as urban and peri-urban areas.

Low-Pressure Drip Irrigation for Small Plots and Urban Landscapes. [PDF]
A research report developed by New Mexico State University on designing and using small scale low pressure irrigation systems.

Urban Permaculture in Practice
Blog site capturing Permaculture design principles for urban areas.

Urban Water Harvesting Systems [YouTube Video]
Brad Lancaster, dry lands water harvesting expert, speaks at the Tenth International Permaculture Conference (IPC10) about water harvesting need and potential.


Urban Livestock Production


⇒ ATTRA Publications


Small-Scale Livestock Production - IP411

PDF Price print copy: $9.95 for non-members, PDF download: $3.99 for non-members, Kindle price: $6.95

 • Summary •  Buy a PDF download  •  View as a web page  •  Get it for Kindle  • Buy Print Copy
Small-Scale Sustainable Rabbit Production - IP445

PDF Price print: $3.00 for non-members

 • Summary • Download PDF  • Buy Print Copy
Worms for Bait or Waste Processing (Vermicomposting) - IP110

PDF print price: $6.99 for non-members, PDF download: $3.99 for non-members, Kindle price: $3.99

 • Summary •  Buy a PDF download  •  Get it for Kindle  • Buy Print Copy
Vermicomposting: The Basics - IP454

PDF print price: $3.00 for non-members

 • Summary •  Download PDF  • Buy Print Copy
Aquaculture Enterprises: Considerations and Strategies - IP353

PDF print price: $4.95 for non-members, PDF download: $1.95 for non-members

 • Summary •  Buy a PDF download  •  Get it for Kindle  • Buy Print Copy
Beekeeping/Apiculture - IP229

PDF print price: $3.00 for non-members

 • Summary  • View as a web page  • Download PDF  • Buy Print Copy

Urban Livestock Guides

Urban Livestock from Guide to Urban Farming in New York State by Cornell University
Provides links to urban livestock resources and city ordinances.

Housing and Space Guidelines for Livestock, University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension. [PDF]
Best management practices that greatly reduce or eliminate problems of odor and fly control, pesticide drift, contamination of surface and ground waters. These management practices allow for properly managed agricultural enterprises to continue operating in residential areas.

Livestock Keeping in Urban Areas by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
A review of traditional technologies based on literature and field experience.

International Network for Urban Agriculture (INUAg); Livestock
INUAg.org is an up-to-date, organized and searchable, resource for individuals, communities and organizations interested in urban agriculture.


Poultry

Urban Chickens
Urban Chickens is dedicated to the practice of backyard chicken keeping in urban and suburban environments.

Nutrition for the Backyard Flock, UGA Cooperative Extension
Providing the right nutrition for your chickens means ensuring that what they eat supplies all of the essential amino acids, fatty acids, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and water that they will need to produce the meat or eggs you hope to collect.

Small and Backyard Flocks, by eXtension
Comprehensive information for urban chicken flocks, including articles, courses, videos, and publications on all aspects of small scale poultry raising.

Managing Manure from the Backyard Flock, Mississippi State Extension [PDF]
Resource for ideas on poultry manure use or disposal.


Small Ruminants

Raising Sheep and Goats for Profit: Small-Scale Ruminant Production [PDF]
Colorado State University Extension publication describing considerations on marketing and production for small scale sheep and goat production; suitable for urban or backyard animal rearing.

Maryland Small Ruminant Page
An extensive list of resources on raising small ruminants from Susan Schoenian, Sheep & Goat Specialist for the University of Maryland Extension.

Nutrient Requirements for Goats
Nutrition information and spreadsheet calculators for goat rations developed by Langston University.


Rabbits

Rabbit Housing: Hutches, Cages, Wires, Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center [PDF]
This publication brings together information on rabbit housing and includes the reasons why certain designs, materials, or methods are favored by rabbit raisers.

Information Resources on the Care and Welfare of Rabbits, Animal Welfare Information Center [PDF]
Publications on rabbit production, a bibliography, and web resources.


Fish

The Northeastern US Aquaculture Management Guide [PDF]
This manual includes information about major production hazards facing farmers, including: predators, diseases, parasites, organisms that have the potential to cause aquatic animal illness and human illness (e.g. toxic algae), biofouling, spread of invasive species, and other operational and environmental hazards.

Southern Regional Aquaculture Center Publications
Fact sheets on species, recirculating systems, health, disease, nutrition, and water quality.

The Urban Aquaculture Manual. Heifer Project International.
Useful resource on recirculating systems with further resources.

Urban Aquatic Production. RUAF Foundation.
Discussion of urban aquaculture systems, benefits, constraints, and urban issues.

See additional fish resources in Controlled Environment Agriculture (Including Vertical, Hydroponic, and Aquaponic Systems)


Apiculture

Beekeeping Tips for Beginners. University of Missouri Extension.
Publication covers location, equipment, plants, diseases and insects, and further resources for beginning beekeepers.

John's Beekeeping Notebook
Website created by John Caldeira, Dallas, Texas, with information on suburban beekeeping.

HoneyLove
HoneyLove is a Los Angeles based 501(c)3 non-profit conservation organization with a mission to protect the honeybees by educating our communities and inspiring new urban beekeepers.

Back Yard Beekeepers Association
The mission of BYBA is to provide our membership with a forum for sharing knowledge and mutual interests in beekeeping, and to educate and promote the benefits of beekeeping to the public.

BackYardHive
BackYardHive is committed to information and hive technologies that encourage and enable backyard beekeepers to be successful.

Keeping Backyard Bees
Information on bees, beekeeping, and bee products.

Urban Beekeepers for Beginners Facebook Page
Facebook page for beginning urban beekeepers.




Controlled Environment Agriculture
(Including Vertical, Hydroponic, and Aquaponic Systems)




⇒ ATTRA Publications


Vertical Farming - IP516

PDF Price: $3.00 for non-members

 • Summary  • View as a web page  • Download PDF  • Buy Print Copy
Aquaponics — Integration of Hydroponics with Aquaculture - IP163

PDF Price: $3.00 for non-members

 • Summary  • View as a web page  •  Download PDF  • Buy Print Copy
Aquaculture Enterprises: Considerations and Strategies - IP353

PDF print price: $4.95 for non-members, PDF download: $1.95 for non-members

 • Summary •  Buy a PDF download  •  Get it for Kindle  • Buy Print Copy
Photovoltaic Applications in Aquaculture: A Primer - IP473

PDF print price: $3.00 for non-members

 • Summary •  Download PDF  • Buy Print Copy


⇒ Additional Resources

(See additional resources on fish in the urban livestock section)

Controlled Environment Agriculture – Cornell University
Website provides technical information, research, and resources on advanced and intensive forms of hydroponically-based agriculture.

Association for Vertical Farming
The Association for Vertical Farming is an internationally active nonprofit organization of individuals, companies, research institutions and universities focusing on advancing Vertical Farming technologies, designs, and businesses.

Agritecture
Industry website providing current information on vertical farming and urban agriculture design, news, business, and jobs.

International Network for Urban Agriculture (INUAg); Indoors
INUAg.org is an up-to-date, organized and searchable, resource for individuals, communities and organizations interested in urban agriculture.

The Aquaponics Association
The mission of the Aquaponics Association is to promote the benefits of aquaponics through education and outreach. The Aquaponics Association also provides micro grants to increase public awareness, understanding, and knowledge of aquaponics.

The Aquaponic Gardening Community
A community and forum for aquaponic gardeners.

Urban Aquaponics
Online forum, blog, information, research, and resources for aquaponics enthusiasts.

Urban Ag News
Urban Ag News is an educator providing content through a variety of different media. Through its educational efforts, Urban Ag News seeks to provide its users with a basic understanding of the industry and to keep them informed of the latest technologies.

Indoor Crop Production: Feeding the Future
Newbean Capital and Local Roots partnered to author this white paper.



⇒ Webinars/Multimedia


How to Get Started in Vertical Farming and Urban Agriculture – the Next Big Thing for Cities
Sustainable Cities Collective webinar on urban agriculture, in particular indoor and vertical farming.

Urban Agriculture Audio/Podcasts Hosted by Dickson Despommier and Vincent Racaniello
Podcasts focusing on food production within the built environment, including vertical and container farming. The podcasts feature in-depth interviews with many of the world's leading experts in urban agriculture.

Challenges in Vertical Farming Video Series (19 videos)
Proceedings from a 2012 workshop that captured the state of the art of vertical farming, defined a research agenda, and established a working group at the nexus of biology, engineering, economics, and architecture. Sponsored by Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute.




Footnote



Funding for this page was provided in part by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Award 2012-68006-30177, Agriculture and Food Research Initiative. Small and Medium Sized Farms Program. For information, contact Andy Pressman: andyp@ncat.org.


 

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This page was last updated on: November 17, 2016