The CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities (CISC) last fall convened the CUNY Food and Urban Agriculture Working Group (FUAWG), as a core research effort in the Consumption Cities Project area. The FUAWG, including faculty, students, and stakeholders from around the University, and beyond, is preparing to initiate a food and urban agriculture assessment for New York City and create and evaluate pilot programs for education and training in urban agriculture in both degree programs and continuing education.  The overarching goal of the project is to assess the ability of New York City’s food system to provide the ecosystem services and nutrition necessary for residents’ well-being.


To reach this goal the assessment has the following objectives:

  1. Identify and describe the current New York City food system and identify gaps in our knowledge about the system;
  2. Provide a better understanding of the trade-offs (e.g. costs/benefits, equity, access-environmental justice) involved—across sectors and stake-holders—in decisions concerning our food system;
  3. Help align strategic options with the level and type of governance where responses can be most effective in moving the food system of New York City towards sustainability goals
  4. Institutionalize capacity building efforts within CUNY in the areas of sustainable food production, processing, distribution and waste treatment

The assessment is based upon the identification and description of elements and relationships that influence and maintain the New York City food system (see diagram). The project outputs target the major stakeholders in the New York City food system including, public sector officials, private sector firms and individuals, community groups, NGOs and interested citizens. We undertake this effort in response to the growing interest in the city’s food system, as typified by Manhattan Borough President, Scott M. Stringer, FoodNYC, A Blueprint for a Sustainable Food System, policy white paper (2010). In this document, Borough President Stringer calls for the generation of a regional food production system, the procurement of regionally grown food, the cultivation of a food economy and the establishment of an urban agriculture food production. This assessment provides a valuable inventory of what information and the level of scientific consensus on that information that is currently available to planners that supports these goals.


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