Urban Food Lab

  • A vertical farming research team aimed at exploring hydroponic growth strategies and composting tactics in the NYU Tandon Makerspace.


NYU Urban Food Lab is a hydroponic vertical farming class in which students learn about sustainability and farming by running their own mini-projects connecting their fields to the farm. Vertical farming allows produce to be grown in urban areas in a controlled environment, allowing for year-round growing without the environmentally costly effects of conventional farming. Each semester, students focus on an area of study and research, using the meeting time to develop new projects for the Urban Food Lab.


Past Projects in the Urban Food Lab

  • Composting Initiative: In collaboration with Free-Fridge, we implemented a composting system that transformed food scraps into valuable nutrients, extending their lifespan and contributing to the growth and development of plants in our hydroponic system. This innovative approach explored sustainable alternatives for nutrient provision and environmental stewardship.
  • Rhizosphere Research: Our team analyzed the impacts and characteristics of the rhizosphere in a hydroponic environment, unveiling insights into the intricate relationships between plant roots and their surrounding microbiome.
  • Collaboration with EPA: We worked with the EPA to study mealworms and how they might be a solution to the growing microplastics problem.
  • Aeroponic System Development: Students successfully designed and implemented an aeroponic system from the ground up, demonstrating their ingenuity and hands-on learning experience.
  • Mycological Integration: We incorporated the cultivation of edible mushrooms into our farm, diversifying our produce and exploring the symbiotic relationships between fungi and plants.
  • Urban Farming Policy Initiatives: Our team was actively involved in drafting science policy memos that addressed the challenges and opportunities associated with urban farming, contributing to the development of informed and sustainable practices.
  • Optical Fiber Daylighting System: Through the innovative use of optical fibers, we redirected natural sunlight into our farm, reducing our reliance on energy-intensive LED lighting systems.
  • Substrate Comparison Study: Our research explored the effects of different growing substrates on plant growth, aiming to identify optimal conditions for yield and quality.
  • Air Quality Analysis: We conducted comprehensive studies to assess the impact of plants on indoor air quality within our farm, quantifying their potential to improve air purity and create healthier environments.

Methods & Technologies

  • Hydroponics
  • Controlled Environment Agriculture
  • Composting
  • Climate Engineering
  • Proposal Writing
  • Social Entrepreneurship
  • Experimental Design
  • Plant Biology / Care
  • Plant Growth Monitoring
  • Sustainability
  • Vertical Farming

Areas of Interest

  • Sustainability
  • Research
  • Agriculture / Gardening
  • Biology
  • Chemistry


  • NYU Office of Sustainability
  • NYU Dining Halls
  • The Association for Vertical Farming
  • Urban Futures Lab
  • NYC Mayor’s Office of Sustainability
  • NYU Urban Farm Lab

Faculty Advisor

Student Leadership