A Farm Grows in Brooklyn

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Gordan Geballe
Essay Abstract: 
Urban agriculture has become a popular topic of analysis as researchers explore the environmental and social injustices that persist in a city-centric world. Numerous studies show that urban agriculture is promising a grassroots response to injustice, providing many environmental and social co-benefits. Others critique the practice for reinforcing discriminatory neoliberal structures. Using a mixed methods approach that combines visual and narrative analysis, this paper examines the motivational drivers of three urban agriculture models in Brooklyn, New York. It argues that understanding the distinct and cross-cutting motivations of specific urban agriculture typologies provides useful and necessary insights for practitioners, scholars and policymakers, who hope to design holistic solutions to urban sustainability through such means as small-scale agricultural cultivation. Based on a modest three-case sample size, the paper offers preliminary interpretations and policy recommendations for the city of New York. These include: a) for practitioners, the importance of aligning project scale with motivational scale; b) for scholars, a need for greater empirical emphasis on the educational potential of urban agriculture; c) for New York City policymakers, a call to further integrate urban agriculture with city planning.