From the research for your book, Designing Urban Agriculture, and your on-going work in designing and facilitating urban agriculture projects, have you learned anything that surprised or challenged you as a landscape architect?
Simply put, food can become a platform from which we address other important elements of community, ecology, and livability, including the physical, social, economic, cultural, and environmental health of the city. Food is the gateway to the stakeholder conversations between city, community, and project developer or funder. It is also surprising how many edible projects and ideas are out there to learn from so there is still tremendous interest in delving deeper into this complex subject.
You can’t have a lifestyle trend such as urban farming or edible frontyards without some controversy. Did you know that there really are many cities and towns with old bylaws or zoning codes that prohibit a person from actually eating any food they grow in their own yard! While some cities such as San Francisco, New York, Baltimore, Seattle and Detroit have begun to change laws and policy in support of urban agriculture, and as this trend continues to thrive because of food safety and security issues, the growing foodie locavore movement and urban hipster cred, many citizens in other cities and towns have been threatend with jail time or fines for planting a garden or organic farm on their own property.
In the recent post, A Growing Concern,in The Earth Island Journal, Sena Christian raises legitimate questions about the national urban agriculture movement. She states that farms and community gardens in city centers seem to have struck a chord with the American public and have become media darlings attracting big grants from major philanthropies and the support of upscale chefs.
Part 1: Demystifying Living Walls – Facts & Fiction
Living walls are igniting the imagination of designers everywhere. And what is not to like, for as encapsulated visions of nature with their seemingly perfect beauty contained on a wall or screen, they tend to idealize nature in the urban realm.
Organic edible gardens are a rising trend not only in the residential sector but also the corporate campus. In a recent New York Times article,it was noted thatas companies have less to spend on raises, health benefits and other typical employee perks, the latest craze is to let them dig in the dirt. Not only are companies such as Google, Yahoo and Sunset Magazine doing it, where organic may be part of the regional urban zeitgeist, this sustainable trend is catching on at more traditional based companies too. Planting and harvesting edibles to take home, incorporating fresh foods into the campus cafeteria menu, or even donating the harvested crops to a local food bank, are creative ways that allow employees a place to connect with nature, build morale and health, or give something back to the community. This eco-trend is one to watch to see if it will become just a passing fad or mark the beginning of a transformation into a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle across the country.