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

Worksite Location
CUCE-NYC Programs, New York City
Faculty Sponsor
Neil Mattson, Associate Professor, Horticulture
Other Campus-Based Mentors/Supervisors
Anusuya Rangarajan, Senior Extension Associate, Horticulture
Field Mentors/Supervisors
Jennifer Tiffany, Executive Director, CUCE-NYC; Philson A. A. Warner, Extension Associate, CUCE-NYC; Linda Ameroso, Extension Educator, CUCE-NYC
Stipend Amount
Project Summary and Intended Outcomes

Over the past several years there has been a large increase in urban agriculture activities in New York City (NYC) with a wide range of project motivations, for example, non-profit, commercial, educational, and 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 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 five boroughs. The project will begin with a survey of current projects. 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 a 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 develop a database of current CEA projects and relevant communication methods (email lists, web forums, etc.) for reaching the stakeholder audience in the initial survey. Working with field staff, the student will determine three distinct stakeholder audiences for focus group meetings as well as five projects to profile in case studies. 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, case studies, and recommendations for University, city, and state policy initiatives to promote urban agriculture.

Qualifications and Previous Coursework

Must be a full-time CALS freshman, sophomore or junior. Graduating seniors are not eligible.

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.