Increasing Rainwater Harvesting Adoption Among Urban Farmers: Validating Water Quality, Food Safety, and Lifecycle Benefits

Urban agriculture is growing quickly across the U.S. to address food insecurity and climate change. Rainwater harvesting could provide reliable, high-quality water for urban farms, yet there is currently low adoption due to water quality concerns and uncertainty about costs and benefits. There is an immediate need to increase rainwater harvesting in urban agriculture to produce safe and nutritious foods for underserved communities and address climate change’s stress on water sources.

This project spearheaded by environmental health Assistant Professor Rachel Rosenberg Goldstein and the EFC, University of Maryland Extension and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Services will help urban farmers harvest and filter rainwater to nourish their crops and eventually create more sustainable farms and resilient communities.  Specifically, the project will: 1) field-test an integrated rainwater harvesting, ZVI sand filtration, and irrigation system and confirm water quality and produce safety; 2) evaluate environmental, social, and economic costs and benefits of rainwater harvesting for produce irrigation in underserved urban communities; and 3) develop innovative Extension programming on rainwater harvesting design, quality, and benefits. 






For more information, contact Jennifer Egan at or 302-540-4546.

Semester / Year
2023 - Present

Team Members

Program / Center Affiliation