T5 Farm: Food Systems Case Study

Capture.PNGImage: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jetblue/21550975463/in/album-72157659855617991/

JetBlue Airways T5 Farm

Location Map-02.jpg

Location: JFK Airport, NYC
Year: 2015
Type of System: Crate Farm
Production: 1,000lbs+
Climate: Humid Continental
Scale: Building
Area: 24,000 ft2 | 2230 m2
Growing Season: approx Year round
Crops: Blue Potatoes, Mint, Kale, Arugula, Lavender, Ginger, Garlic, Parsley, Lettuce, Spinach, Beets, Basil, Chives and more!

Informational Video: https://youtu.be/uQEEANcqg7Y


Case Study Background:

One of the first urban farms located in an airport, T5 Farm is an urban farm outside of Terminal 5 at JFK’s airport. JetBlue, in partnership with GrowNYC designed this 24,000 square foot farm to help change the perspective of airports, and educate others on where their food is coming from.

“We wanted to add physical green space to the airport. We know that people are relaxed by green space, much as they are in their own homes. It is why we put plants in offices and love our backyards. We also wanted the space to be productive and do more than house benches. Hence the desire to grow produce which is given away to crew members at no charge.”

Sophia Menelsogn, head of sustainability- JetBlue[1]

Headed by an urban farmer and volunteers, this unusual farm took 3 years to come into existence. Of course, no one would consider urban farming as a practical use for an airport so it was with much difficulty that Sophia Mendelsohn fought for its approval.After a year of its construction and daily management, it is clear that T5 provides many benefits to not only the airline employees and travelers who interact and are awarded the view of the farm, but also to the micro-climate, conditions and perceptions of the airport.

“Airports realize that if they green, it can curry favor with the community, build good will, and it makes them a more welcomed part of the community, beyond just the function they provide,”

-Mr. Harteveldt [2]


Stake Holders:


GrowNYC | GrowNYC is a partner in the Farm. They are responsible for the day-to-day operations for the farm, as well as managing future tour operations onsite.

The Port Authority of NY & NJ | Governmental agency in charge of the Airport which coordinates the regulatory approval of the various farming operations onsite within the guidelines of FAA regulations.

TERRA Real Vegetable Chips | A division of Hain Celestial Group, the Chip Company is the signature snack food offered aboard JetBlue flights, the company utilizes a percentage of the potatoes produced from the farm to be converted into potato chips at a nearby manufacturing plan for their TERRA Blues brand of potato chips.

Type of System, Scale, and process:

This 2,300 crate farming system produces 1,000lbs of blue potatoes and 2,000 other herbs and crops each year.

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The crates are first bolted together, and then to the ground in the event that an earthquake or hurricane were to occur.

Starting out the soil was made from leftovers from some of the T5 restaurants. Approximately 300lbs of food waste is taken daily from T5 to an organic farm in Hudson Valley where it is composted and brought back to the T5 garden when needed.


Prevents 80,000 gallons of annual rain water from entering the sewer system. [2]

Additionally plants are watered through a drip irrigation system to prevent loss of water through evaporation, however often times volunteers will provide additional hose watering to the blue potatoes.



The farm is currently only open to JetBlue employees and volunteers. Once crops are farmed they are shared between those who have volunteered and excess is taken to local food banks throughout Queens and Brooklyn NY. In the future JetBlue would like to have the restaurants at T5 use the crops yielded on the farm, and bring local school kids to the farm to allow an educational component.


One of the biggest implications facing T5 farm was whether or not vegetables grown in the polluted airspace of an airport would be worthwhile. Surprisingly, the crops grown organically are yielding amazing results, and are actually improving the micro-climate of the space by improving the air quality. [3]

Another concern was that the farm would attract birds to the airport. As a result it was important that the design of T5 did not include crops such as tomatoes, corn, berries, seeds or sunflowers. [4]





[1] http://www.psfk.com/2015/11/jetblue-t5-jfk-farm-grownyc-jfk-urban-farm-new-york.html
[2] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/17/business/jetblues-airport-farm-adds-a-touch-of-green-to-kennedy.html?_r=1
[3] http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/flights/todayinthesky/2015/10/08/jetblue-farm-new-york-jfk/73593288/#
[4] http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2015/10/07/jetblue-jfk-farm/




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