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  • Cornell Cooperative Extension
  • Agriculture

Community gardeners, farmers, and advocates from across New York state gathered on April 27 for the 8th annual spring urban agriculture conference at Edison Tech High School in Rochester. The conference, organized by the Rochester Urban Ag Working Group, which featured a number of Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) specialists and educators, welcomed 150 attendees from throughout the state to learn, network, and strategize ways to build a more resilient local food system.

“This year’s conference was a rich, all-day experience that connected urban and community growers across the state and within their own neighborhoods,” said CCE Harvest New York Urban Gardens Specialist Mallory Hohl, a member of the Rochester Urban Ag Working Group, and conference chair. “Participants learned from experts, elders, and each other by sharing knowledge and experiences.”

CCE Monroe County's Urban Agriculture Educator and Farm Manager Mike Kincaid; Marci Muller, CCE Monroe County’s horticulture program leader; and Lori Koenick, a project assistant with the Cornell Vegetable Program, also helped organize the event, which featured a keynote address from Qiana Mickie, the inaugural executive director of the NYC Mayor's Office of Urban Agriculture.

Mickie shared her experience working with non-profits and her efforts around urban agriculture policy in New York City. While acknowledging persistent barriers to urban ag, she emphasized the importance of transforming challenges into opportunities and showcasing ongoing progress and success stories.

The afternoon featured a lively panel discussion with representatives from New York City, Rochester, Buffalo, and Syracuse. Panelists discussed the successes and challenges of supporting urban agriculture across New York state.

Eight diverse workshops rounded out the conference, offering valuable information on topics ranging from urban beekeeping and mushroom inoculation to food preservation, policy discussions, and inspiring stories from Black urban growers.

Hohl said the event’s success of the conference is a testament to the Rochester Urban Ag Working Group's dedication and reflects CCE’s ongoing commitment to urban agriculture across the state.

“From workshops in Buffalo to policy discussions in NYC, and everything in between, CCE remains a steadfast supporter, connecting communities and nurturing the seeds of a more resilient local food system," said Hohl. “Working alongside our urban agriculture partners across the state, CCE is continually working to support and empower communities throughout New York state.”

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