Rob Stephenson’s series “Urban Agriculture” reveals the urban farms tucked away throughout New York City and the people responsible for these growing spaces. In 1917 the Mayor’s Committee on Food Gardens issued a report documenting the creation of nearly 12,000 gardens and 1,120 acres of large plots dedicated to growing vegetables in New York City. Nearly one hundred years later, many New Yorkers have no access to fresh produce and those that do, often eat food that has traveled hundreds if not thousands of miles. Economic, social and environmental concerns have fueled a revival of urban agricultural in the city.
The project looks at how traditional methods of farming and agriculture have utilized the structure, architecture, and design of urban space to provide locally grown food to such a large, and dense population. With a human presence in many of the images, our relationship urban farms is more than a method of romanticizing and decorating the city, but shows our reliance on accessible, nutritional sustenance.
“This project looks at the paradox of urban agriculture, that the city can be a suitable environment for growing food, focusing specifically on the people and growing spaces of New York City.”- Rob Stephenson
Rob Stephenson’s work has been exhibited at numerous galleries and museums including The Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Jen Bekman Gallery, and The Museum of the City of New York. He was a Design Trust for Public Space Photo Urbanism fellowship and a darkroom residency at the Camera Club of New York. His book, From Roof to Table, documenting the urban agriculture movement in New York City, was published in 2012.