Urban Agriculture: A New Trend in Planning

Food production, once banished to our rural countryside, has re-entered the urban landscape in the form of community gardens that have popped up in vacant lots, parks, and even rooftops.  This trend of growing your own food is part of a larger movement to localize food production – an alternative to the global corporate model of our food industry.  A network of farmer’s markets, community gardens, community-supported agriculture, food co-ops, and seed-savers groups are working to connect consumers with growers, to support small farmers, to preserve our agricultural heritage, and to ensure the availability of nutritious organic food.

This trend is not exactly new.  Havana, the capital of Cuba, has 20 years under it’s belt as a center of urban agriculture.  Their urban agriculture program developed out of necessity with the disappearance of petrochemicals (used for fertilizer, pesticides and transportation) after the collapse of the Soviet Union and a partial blockade by the U.S.  They turned to organic methods, the use of compost and manures for fertilizers, smaller plots that didn’t require the use of large machinery, and localized gardens from which the produce did not need to travel far between field and table.  For more on Cuba read this from sustainable cities, or this detailed account of the urban agricultural program from Monthly Review.

Even urban planners are ditching sod and concrete in response to this renewed interest in locally grown food.  Colorado-based design firm TSR Group has coined the term, “agriburbia”, to describe a blending of agriculture and residential developments.   Their vision will be realized in the Platte River Village, located in Milliken, CO.  Platte River Village is a mixed use, single and multi family residential development.  But instead of traditional landscaping, orchards, vineyards, and annual and perennial crops are grown and used by the development and surrounding communities.  Read the Denver Post article.

More examples of Urban Agriculture in the United States:

Detroit  has large expanses of land available for urban farming and 900 community gardens presently operate within the city limits.

The Chicago restaurant, Uncommon Ground, grows it’s own food in their roof top garden.

Four conceptual sketches of urban agriculture on Canal Street in New York City.

Minnesota-based, Gardening Matters provides a Google Map of Community Gardens located in the Twin Cities.

2 Comments

  1. Great info. We have been working with “Food for Thought” at Ft. Lewis College to incorporate small orchards into some of our parks around Durango. It makes a lot of sense. Our biggest challenge around here has been protection from wildlife. It is cool to see people integrating agriculture into planning. Thanks for the post.

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