Thursday, July 05, 2012


urban agriculture
Source Front Studio Architects

FSA propose 'Farmadelphia'  - a transformation of urban Philadelphia by introducing farmlands into the city's abandoned plots. On the architect’s site they say "The ‘Farmadeliphication’ of once decrepit buildings into farm structures allows for an organic transformation of history that contributes to the present day fabric. The irony of the farm and the city ceases to be a paradox as both function as one integral machine, combining the pleasure of open sky and land with the richness of city living."


Back in March 2010, The Generalist reported on Julien Temple’s documentary on Detroit which featured a story on how urban farming was transforming the city and how this movement was spreading across America and the world. Returning to the topic two years later, its clear that its accelerating. Interestingly, the western world is learning from the developing world, where urban farming is more prevalent.

My first impetus for this post was reading in Green Building about ‘Carrot City’ – the brainchild of Dr Mark Gorgolewski and colleagues at Ryerson University in Toronto. He writes:

Carrot City is an initiative…that aims to highlight the overlap between local food systems and urban design. It includes a [travelling] exhibition, a book and a website. They all address how the design of cities, urban landscapes, buildings and gardens can facilitate the production and processing of food and the impact that food issues have on the design of urban spaces and buildings. A series of conceptual and realized projects are feat5ured that enable urban food production, helping to re-introduce growing food to our cities.’

There’s a mass of material on the site including 80 of the exhibition boards in three languages.

This led me to a another fantastic resource on the subject: the 2012 issue of ‘Leaf Litter’ the journal/newsletter of Biohabitats, a US-based organisation involved in conservation planning, ecological restoration and regenerative design. There special issue ‘Thoughts on Urban Agriculture’ gives a brilliant overview of the various issues and global state of play with a lot of carefully selected and graded web resources but also two long interviews with Dr Mark Gorgolewski and Novella Carpenter whose book ‘The Essential Urban Farmer’ is a key text as is her best-selling ‘Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer’. The opening essays begins:

‘Today, although more than half of the world’s people live in cities, most of their food is produced elsewhere, often through energy intensive, resource draining, and unsustainable industrial agriculture. Despite the high yields of “factory farms,” many cities now grapple with food security and hunger. With worldwide urbanization increasing, along with concerns in many cities about urban heat island effect, social justice, poor nutrition, declining natural resources, and struggling economies, one has to wonder: can urban agriculture reclaim its significance to life in the city? In many places, it already has.

‘The United Nations Development Programme estimated that 800 million people worldwide were engaged in urban agriculture and related enterprises in 1996, and that number has increased. In Africa, 40 percent of urban dwellers are said to be involved in some form of agriculture, and this figure rises to 50 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean. To quote the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, “Urban agriculture needs to be recognized as an important and increasingly central phenomenon of urbanization.”

The images on this post come from a great set of examples of Urban Agriculture on Inspiration Green, which does what it says on the lentil.


roof garden
Source Photo: Business Week, Japan.
The Toyota Roof Garden. Toyota is also marketing grass covered roof tiles.

There’s a very useful Wikipedia entry too.

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