Land grant schools, like Cornell for New York State, provide support to urban farmers when they need such things as soil tests or information about pest control – support that they can’t find elsewhere. A recent article on npr.org explains the importance of urban research farms to address the particular challenges faced by urban farmers, such as crop nutrient density and optimizing small growing spaces.
In New York City, for example, Cornell University’s Cooperative Extension has one staff member for every 160,000 residents and tries to “make sure that all New York residents benefit from Cornell’s research,” says Jennifer Tiffany, executive director of the college’s city-based outreach.
In New York, the Cornell extension office works alongside dozens of other organizations that add to its work by writing prescriptions for fruits and vegetables that can then be used at nearby farmers markets. Instead of visiting individual farms to offer growers advice, as staff might in a rural setting, Tiffany says her program leads instructional tours that take almost 100 people through an indoor hydroponics facility, showing them just how many calories of food can be grown inside the city buildings.