Caitlin Chai

Date of Award


First Advisor

Chris Coggins

Second Advisor

Erin McMullin


Cities cause and exacerbate a wide range of socio-environmental problems today. By re-greening cities using urban farming, we can minimize their negative impacts on the biosphere while simultaneously benefiting their populations. This includes reducing their carbon footprint, stimulating economic development, improving citizens' health, and increasing resiliency to disasters, both natural and otherwise. This thesis focuses on urban farming in New York City. The three urban farms that I examine in this work include both commercial and non-profit farms. Each of the farms is described in terms of its community involvement, logistics, physical structure, and benefits. Considering the availability of spaces for urban farms and the ability of those green spaces to contribute positively to the urban ecosystem while promoting healthy lifestyles, incorporating urban farms into the cityscape is desirable from a socio-ecological standpoint. Commercial and non-profit farms both advertise the same goals of improving ecosystems and human health in urban communities. However, with the rapid expansion of urban agriculture to include large-scale agribusinesses and the decreasing emphasis on community that has defined the city's urban gardening history since its revival in the 1970s, we must consider the implications of the fragile political state of community farms and the commercialization of urban farming. I conclude with a discussion on the future prospects for this blossoming field at the intersection of sustainable development, agriculture, and urban planning.

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