Supporting Controlled Environment Agriculture in New York City

Worksite Location
New York City
Project Dates
May 23 - August 21, 2018
Faculty Sponsor
Anu Rangarajan, Horticulture Section, School of Integrated Plant Science
Other Campus-Based Mentors/Supervisors
Anu Rangarajan, Horticulture Section, School of Integrated Plant Science
Stipend Amount
$5,000
Project Summary and Intended Outcomes

Metropolitan agriculture, the production of food in urban and peri-urban areas, has captured the attention and excitement of municipalities and entrepreneurs as a means to improve fresh food access while contributing to environmental sustainability. Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) operations are emerging in cities around the world to enable year-round intensive production of vegetables. These decentralized systems reduce food waste, use less water than soil-based production, and create new opportunities for entrepreneurs and workforce development. Three internship positions are available to work with commercial CEA operations in New York City. The interns will support the activities of a CEA business and also conduct a research project to address a specific operations question identified with the owner/operator. As a team, the interns will work together to clarify research and education needs to address production, marketing and policy challenges to CEA growth and integration into local and regional food systems. The project is expected to guide University, city, and state policy initiatives to promote urban agriculture and foster relationships and capacity building among CEA entrepreneurs in NYC and Cornell University and Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Roles and Responsibilities

• Work with commercial NYC-based CEA operation gain valuable production, marketing and business management skills • Design and execute a summer research project to support decisions that impact operation decision making (plant culture, labor efficiency, marketing of products, etc.) • Work collaboratively with other interns to create a survey for CEA operations to understand skill sets for different job titles at these operations. • Interview NYC CEA entrepreneurs, to understand future research and educational needs • Share project findings with individual businesses and via focus groups with CEA networks, local educators and policy makers

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 horticulture, city and regional planning, geographical information systems, information sciences, and interest in controlled environment production are beneficial but not necessary. Must be a Cornell registered student.

Benefits and Skills

Interns will gain experience on current CEA urban agriculture practices through direct work experience with commercial CEA businesses. Interns will collaborate with both commercial and non-profit partners and learn several methods of community engagement (eg. surveys, interviews, focus groups). In addition, students will work across disciplines, communicate with diverse audiences and help prioritize future efforts related to research and education on CEA in NYC.