Turning great ideas into healthier communities


Rupal Sanghvi book is most comprehensive look at urban agriculture in New York City

August 15, 2012 | PDF | Carolyn Newbergh

Most people would probably be surprised to learn that New York City is a national leader in urban farms and gardens, with almost 10 times more of them than either San Francisco or Seattle. That’s what a new book co-authored by PHI’s Rupal Sanghvi reveals in what is believed to be the most comprehensive survey of the urban agriculture movement in New York City.

 “Five Borough Farm: Seeding the Future of Urban Agriculture” is a story about the revitalization of often-blighted public places and the enhancing of local health, economic activity, ecology and public safety as well as a sense of community. The city’s 700 food-producing gardens and farms are situated on 50 acres throughout its five boroughs in a range of under-utilized public locations, including reclaimed vacant lots, rooftops, schoolyards and public housing grounds.

The book introduces the nation’s first “urban agriculture metrics framework” to allow farmers, city officials and others in New York and elsewhere to measure the agricultural activities and quantify the benefits that result. Developed by Sanghvi, this metrics system keeps track of indicators such as how much food waste is collected and composted, the number of hours youth spend related to working on the farms, and how many urban farmers are eating the fresh produce.

“Five Borough Farm” provides a roadmap for how to expand the number of farms and gardens, and Sanghvi’s metrics tool is designed to be used to make a strong case for investing more resources and changing public policy to support the city’s urban agriculture movement.   

Sanghvi is the founder of PHI’s HealthxDesign (pronounced “Health By Design”), which explores the role of the built environment, including urban design, to improve health and related social outcomes (www.healthxdesign.org).

“Five Borough Farm” is a project of the Design Trust for Public Space and was funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the David Rockefeller Foundation. You can learn more about the book or visit its accompanying website.

Carolyn Newbergh is an editor and writer for the Public Health Institute.