Community Gardens and Urban Agriculture


In addition to beautifying city blocks and providing needed green space in areas where public parks are scarce, community gardeners grow nutritious fresh foods for families, communities, and emergency food sites. Gardens and urban farms are centers of learning where children discover the natural world and find out where food comes from. Gardens are safe spaces for exercise in communities with poor access to physical activity outlets. These green spaces deliver environmental benefits such as reduced city heat, decreased storm water run-off, safer soil, and natural habitat for birds. In gardens, residents of all ages from diverse backgrounds find common ground.

Community Gardens Task Force

New York State's Community Gardens Task Force convenes stakeholders from state agencies, existing community gardens, special use districts, public authorities, and cooperative extension services to establish and expand community gardens and the activities they conduct. The group may study, evaluate, and develop recommendations related to this purpose. 

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New York State Community Gardens Soil Testing Program

The Department invites eligible organizations to apply for community garden soil testing through the New York State Community Gardens Soil Testing Program. A total funding amount of $40,000 is available to process up to 800 soil tests.

Soil testing is a quick and accurate method to determine the relative acidity of the soil, the level of several essential nutrients, as well as the presence of heavy metals. Soil test results can be a helpful tool for farmers and gardeners in determining plant selection, soil preparation, and fertilization to optimize the growth of their crops. Technical support and education for participating growers will be provided by garden specialists from Cornell Cooperative Extension Harvest New York to help gardeners interpret the results and provide recommendations to amend and support their soils for the best food production outcomes.

An informational webinar with information about the program, how to apply, and eligibility requirements will be held on Tuesday, March 19, 2024 at 12 p.m. A recording of the webinar is available here.

Urban Agriculture Stakeholder Meeting

The Department is undertaking a statewide study of urban agriculture to better understand the industry and put forth policy recommendations to further support it, in partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension’s (CCE) urban agriculture work team. This study builds upon Governor’s Hochul’s State of the State commitment to advancing opportunities for urban farming.

The Department and the CCE work team are seeking input for the study from urban agriculture advocates and practitioners across New York. Such groups should submit any reports, recommendations, surveys, studies, or other documents they have drafted to [email protected] to be included in the study. Inclusivity and representation are core tenants of the study, and as such all advocates and practitioners are encouraged to submit their work.

Additionally, stakeholders were invited to attend a special working session on November 2, 2022 to share their insights and experiences. Materials from the meeting are available below. Watch a recording of the meeting.