Survey and Needs Assessment of Controlled Environment Agriculture in New York City

Worksite Location
CUCE NYC - New York, NY
Project Dates
May 30 - August 12
Faculty Sponsor
Neil Mattson, Horticulture
Other Campus-Based Mentors/Supervisors
Anu Rangaranjan
Field Mentors/Supervisors
Jennifer Tiffany (Executive Director, CUCE-NYC) Philson A. A. Warner (Extension Associate, CUCE-NYC) Urban Agriculture Educator (TBH, CALS/CUCE-NYC)
Stipend Amount
$4,000
Project Summary and Intended Outcomes

Over the past several years there has been a large increase in urban agriculture activities in New York City with a wide range of project motivations, for example, non-profit, commercial, educational, social justice. Many of these projects use controlled environment agriculture (CEA) technology such as hydroponics or aquaponics in the greenhouse or indoor environment. The summer intern will be based at the CUCE-NYC and will work with field staff to execute an assessment of the current status of and needs/opportunities of CEA projects located within the 5 boroughs. The project will build on the survey of current projects completed during 2016 by Wylie Goodman. The work will continue with focus group and case studies of projects representative of the diversity of CEA projects in NYC. The study will result in an updated database of current CEA projects in NYC, case studies that provide an example of the diversity of projects, and a description of the identified barriers and opportunities for expanding CEA in NYC. The project is expected to guide University, city, and state policy initiatives to promote urban agriculture. In addition the project will help foster relationship and capacity building between CUCE-NYC and the Cornell CEA group and Cornell Small Farms Program.

Roles and Responsibilities

Prior to the summer internship, the student will work closely with CUCE-NYC and Ithaca mentors to develop the survey criteria and intended audience. Similarly, the team will seek approval of the methodology from Cornell's Institutional Review Board prior to initiation of the work. Through engagement with key field staff and key urban agriculture leaders in NYC the student will expand the database of current CEA projects and create relevant communication methods (ex: email lists) for reaching the stakeholder audience. Working with field staff the student will determine three distinct stakeholder audiences for focus group meetings. These efforts will enable more in depth assessment of the status, needs, and opportunities of CEA projects in NYC. The student will prepare a final report which will include a database and map of NYC CEA projects, summary results from the survey and focus groups and recommendations for University, city, and state policy initiatives to promote urban agriculture. The student will work with campus-based and field staff to host a training workshop relevant to the educational needs expressed by NYC CEA stakeholders.

Qualifications and Previous Coursework

The candidate should have excellent communication skills, the ability to take initiative and work independently as well as collaboratively as part of a team. Coursework in city and regional planning, geographical information systems, and practical experience in horticulture are beneficial but not necessary.

Benefits and Skills

The student will gain valuable experience in several methods of community engagement (survey methodology, one-on-one conversations, focus groups, etc.) and engaging both commercial and non-profit partners. The student will gain a tremendous amount of information on current CEA urban agriculture practices using research-based data collection and use this dataset to guide policy recommendations. The student will gain practice in geographical information systems, database management, and presenting information in a format that is easy to understand. The student will further improve their communication and teamwork skills.