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Cultivating Urban Wilds for Urban Foods

Susan L. Epstein |  Computer Science, Hunter College
Christian Volkmann | Architecture, CCNY
Zhigang Zhu | Computer Science, CCNY
Casey Breen | Lab Assistant, CCNY

Project website

This interdisciplinary research will design, test, and evaluate innovative models for communitybased,robot-assisted urban rooftop agriculture as part of a smart connected urban food garden and community. The Solar RoofPod and Harlem Garden for Urban Food at City College will become pilot laboratories for deep collaborations among experts in architectural and landscape design, artificial intelligence, robotics, and urban ecology. To ameliorate dysfunction in the urban food system and food insecurity in US cities, our proposed research seeks innovative solutions that integrate sensing networks, machine learning, and robot-assisted systems for a new type of urban agricultural practice. Outcomes will provide theoretical advancement in urban ecology and smart cities research with a conceptual framework that posits intelligent machines as an integral part of society, urban ecosystems, and biophysical environments. This research has substantial potential impacts on increasing urban food security, biodiversity, and the ability to adapt to climate change. The project will also build collaborations with community partners and high schools, and thereby motivate the next generation of scientists and urban farmers through STEM curriculum development and community outreach.

This project is funded by the 2022 CUNY Interdisciplinary Research Grant.

© 2021 Zihao Zhang