Growing Food Connections Webinar #4 - Small Urban Farms National Scan

American Planning Association


Tuesday, March 21, 2017
1 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. EDT

CM | 1.50

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Please join Growing Food Connections and the American Planning Association on March 21, 1-2:30pm ET for a webinar featuring new research from Dr. Anu Rangarajan, Cornell University and Molly Riordan, Cornell University and City of Philadelphia on supporting the development of urban farms. 



As urban and suburban farms have proliferated around the United States in the past decades, much attention has been paid to their youth engagement, community development, educational and other social impacts. Yet there have been few assessments of how these farm-based social enterprises, which face the narrow margins and high risks of growing produce, can thrive based on the sales of their products alone. Often strong relationships with nonprofit and philanthropic sources have helped urban farms survive. But what can be done to encourage their self-sufficiency for a promising future?

Through a study commissioned by the Local Food Research & Development Division of USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, Dr. Anu Rangarajan, Cornell University and Molly Riordan, City of Philadelphia, have interviewed farmers, policy-makers, urban planners, funders, and nonprofit and community organizers engaged in local food systems and urban farming to uncover the policies, resources, and future research and development needed to support the development of urban farms. They will review examples from case study farms to present relevant farm models, planning policies, and partnerships that point the way toward fulfilling the promise of urban agriculture.

Questions for consideration:

  1. Farmers in cities with strong urban agriculture policies may still struggle with city agencies that do not understand how urban farms are different than other businesses or uses. What strategies or resources can educate city agencies to increase their understanding of the peculiar nature of urban farms, and streamline the establishment of farms?


  1. Urban farms are often seen as temporary uses, but commercial urban farms require secure land tenure to grow their businesses toward viability. What city mechanisms can assure urban farm tenure for these small businesses while aligning with other city priorities?

Resource URL


Dr. Anu Rangarajan

Confirmed Speaker

Dr. Anu Rangarajan is a member of the Horticulture faculty at Cornell University and serves as the Statewide Fresh Market Vegetable Specialist for New York. She directs the Cornell Small Farms Program, with a mission to enhance the viability and sustainability of all small farms across the Northeast. Focal areas ... Read More

Molly Riordan

Confirmed Speaker

Molly Riordan, MRP is the former Urban Agriculture Development Program Associate for the Cornell Small Farms Program at Cornell University. Her research and previous work combined aspects of city planning, regenerative farming practices, farmer training, and local food distribution and market development. Currently, she is the Good Food Purchasing Coordinator ... Read More