Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

For Illustrative Purposes Only. Prepared by NYC Department of City Planning. Urban Design Office. June 2018.
For Illustrative Purposes Only. Prepared by NYC Department of City Planning. Urban Design Office. June 2018.

Where is gardening and agriculture allowed in New York City?

Zoning allows agricultural uses in all residential districts, the vast majority of commercial districts, and all manufacturing districts. The only area where agriculture is not permitted by zoning is within C7 districts, which are intended for amusement parks. Agricultural uses include personal gardening, community gardening, commercial farming, indoor farming such as hydroponics and aquaponics, rooftop greenhouses, and more.

The NYC Zoning Resolution delineates where specific uses are allowed in the city. Agriculture is defined in two places within the Zoning Resolution:

  • Section 22-14 – Agricultural uses are listed as Use Group 4B, which are allowed in all residential zoning districts (R1-R10) and the majority of commercial zoning districts (C1-C6 and C8). 
  • Section 42-14 – Agricultural uses are listed as Use Group 17C, which are allowed in all manufacturing zoning districts (M1-M3).

Have further questions?  Contact the Department of City Planning’s Zoning Helpdesk.. 


How do I find a community garden near me?

Visit the GreenThumb Garden Map to get connected with a community garden near you. More than 550 community gardens exist across the five boroughs.


How do I start a community garden?

There are currently more than 550 community gardens in New York City. If you cannot find an existing garden to join in your neighborhood, the GreenThumb program has prepared a guide with step-by-step instructions about creating a new community garden.


Can I donate or sell produce grown in a community garden or farms in New York City?

Produce grown on-site in community gardens and farms can be distributed to communities through both sales and donation. 

Donating Produce Grown On-Site at Community Gardens and Farms
Produce grown within community gardens and farms can be donated to food pantries or soup kitchens in New York City. To inquire about making a donation, visit the Food Bank for New York City.

Selling Produce Grown On-Site at Community Gardens and Farms
The sale of produce grown in community gardens is regulated by various agencies, and the rules differ slightly depending on the ownership of the land where a community garden is located.  In addition, the place of sale governs how produce can be lawfully distributed in communities across New York City. 

Selling Produce from Gardens or Farms Located on NYC Parks Property
Gardening and agricultural activities are generally not allowed in any New York City Park, or other space under the jurisdiction of NYC Parks, except for specifically designated community garden sites. For community gardens that are located on property under the jurisdiction of NYC Parks, zoning does not apply and the sale of produce grown on-site is governed by the regulations of NYC Parks. NYC Parks currently allows the sale of agricultural produce at registered GreenThumb community gardens solely for the purposes of supporting the operation of the garden, and the sale of other items pursuant to a permit issued by the Revenue Division of Parks and in accordance with all other applicable laws, rules and regulations. 

Selling Produce from Gardens or Farms Not Located on NYC Parks Property
The Zoning Resolution permits community gardens to sell food they grow inside the garden on the same lot. This can include a store or stand (enclosed or open), and can also include direct sales from the community garden to restaurants, farmer’s markets, or stores.

For community gardens located in most commercial districts (C1, C2, C4, C5, C6, and C8) or in any manufacturing zoning districts, zoning permits both agriculture and retail stores (Use Group 6), which allows for the sale of products grown within the community garden as well as the sale of other products produced off-site.

The sale of food on public sidewalks is overseen by the Street Activity Permit Office, but not affected by zoning.   

Please note that the sale of some products may also be governed by the New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

 

Selling Produce Grown in a Private Garden in Residential Districts

Selling Produce Grown in a Private Garden in Residential Districts


What is commercial agriculture?

Commercial agriculture is the production and sale of agricultural products for the profit of the commercially registered business. Unlike community gardens, commercial agriculture is an income-based business model.

Where are commercial agricultural uses allowed?

Commercial agriculture is allowed in every zoning district in New York City except C7 districts, which are mapped only in a few very small locations and are intended for amusement parks. Therefore, in all residential districts, the majority of commercial districts, and all manufacturing districts, commercial agriculture is allowed.

Agriculture permits both growing and selling produce that is grown on-site. This can include a stand or store on the same lot where produce is grown, or direct sales from a commercial agricultural business to restaurants, stores, markets, or wholesalers. Agricultural uses in residential zoning districts are not permitted to also sell produce or other products that are not grown on the same lot as the agricultural use. However, agricultural uses in commercial and manufacturing districts are able to sell both produce grown on-site and produce grown in other locations. For example, a commercial greenhouse in a residential zoning district can have a farm stand to sell vegetables that are grown in that greenhouse, but could not also sell vegetables grown at another location. Within most commercial and all manufacturing districts, a commercial greenhouse would be permitted to sell both vegetables grown in that greenhouse and vegetables grown in another location.

For more information about starting a commercial agricultural business in New York City, visit the Urban Agriculture Guide on the NYC Business Portal. The guide includes tips on creating a business plan, registering and financing your business, finding and planning your space, hiring a team, preparing to open, and operating your business.

Selling Produce Grown On-Site in Commercial and Manufacturing Districts

Selling Produce Grown On-Site in Commercial and Manufacturing Districts

 


 

Are greenhouses allowed on my roof or in my backyard? Does this count toward floor area?

Greenhouses are specifically defined in zoning as agricultural uses, which are allowed in all zoning districts in NYC except C7 districts.

In areas with residential zoning, non-commercial greenhouses are allowed in the rear yard, limited to one story or 15 feet in height above the adjoining grade, whichever is less. Greenhouses also cannot exceed 25% of the area of a required rear yard. This is defined in Section 23-44(b).

Within all zoning districts where agricultural uses are allowed (all zoning districts citywide except C7), rooftop greenhouses can be allowed on the roof of a building as a permitted obstruction with a certification by the Chair of the City Planning Commission, which allows greenhouses to not count toward the floor area of a building and to exceed the height limit of the underlying zoning district. The details of the certification for rooftop greenhouses are described in Section 75-01 of the Zoning Resolution. In order to qualify for this Chair certification, applicants must show that the proposed greenhouse is:

  • located on the roof of a building without residences,
  • used primarily for the cultivation of plants,
  • less than 25 feet in height,
  • mostly transparent, and
  • set back from the perimeter wall by 6 feet, if the greenhouse exceeds the building height limit in the district.

What is Zone Green and how does it impact my building?

The New York City Department of City Planning (DCP) launched a citywide initiative called Zone Green to unlock opportunities for building owners to make sustainable investments in new and existing buildings. Zone Green is a set of amendments to zoning regulations, accompanied by supporting City and State legislation, to remove impediments to the construction and retrofitting of green buildings. By empowering property owners to build or retrofit buildings to 21st century standards, Zone Green will help New Yorkers:

  • Save energy and money
  • Generate clean and renewable energy
  • Manage storm water
    Reduce the urban heat island effect
  • Grow fresh, local food
  • Reduce carbon emissions
  • Promote a healthier and greener city

Zone Green Highlights

Zone Green Highlights

Find out More about Zone Green


 

Can I keep chickens in New York City?

Yes. Rules about keeping chickens and other animals are contained in NYC Health Code, Article 161.19. Although hens are permitted, roosters and other birds and fowl are not permitted, including geese, ducks, and turkeys.

Chicken’s eating around backyard coop, Staten Island. Image courtesy of Staten Island resident Lenny Librizzi.
Chicken’s eating around backyard coop, Staten Island. Image courtesy of Staten Island resident Lenny Librizzi.


Can I keep bees in New York City?

Yes. Rules about keeping non-aggressive honey bees in NYC are described in NYC Health Code, Article 161.01, Section 12. People keeping bees are required to register with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on a yearly basis with contact information and information and the location and nature of the beehive.

Beehives in Battery Park, Manhattan. Image courtesy of NYC Department of City Planning.
Beehives in Battery Park, Manhattan. Image courtesy of NYC Department of City Planning.