A recurring theme for sure... both on the web and media at large and within the confines of Landscape+Urbanism, urban agriculture has received short shrift lately (here) due to other ideas and concepts on the front burner. I have recently been delving through my new copy of CPULs (Continuous Productive Urban Landscapes) and will be posting some ideas from that soon (it's a pretty dense book, but worth tackling). In the interim, some interesting urban-related agricultural ideas and resources that have been accumulating during the fallow season.
There has been a lot of talk about Michael Pollan's article 'Farmer in Chief' in the New York Times, which is a good (and comprehensive) read for some global politics of food policies. The urging of Pollan to address food policy on multiple levels bodes well for all of us pushing for more integrated food policies and proactively planning for peak oil impacts. A while bigger government may not be the answer - the White House as a visible model for urban ag would mean a lot to both our motivation and our perception in the world. More change you can believe in?
As Pollan mentions: "Since enhancing the prestige of farming as an occupation is critical to developing the sun-based regional agriculture we need, the White House should appoint, in addition to a White House chef, a White House farmer. This new post would be charged with implementing what could turn out to be your most symbolically resonant step in building a new American food culture. And that is this: tear out five prime south-facing acres of the White House lawn and plant in their place an organic fruit and vegetable garden."
:: ...and we can do it for peanuts - image via New York Times
I've mentioned City Farmer News as a great resource, and Urbanity Sanity is a another spot for good urban agriculture thinking. From the site, a simple message: "Urban agriculture is not a fad, not a hipster activity or pastoral landscaping. It is a means to create local agronomic systems, address food insecurity and access in low-income communities and respond to global climate and food changes."
A recent post led to City Slicker Farms which "...increases food self-sufficiency in West Oakland by creating organic, sustainable, high-yield urban farms and back-yard gardens... Our farms and gardens demonstrate the viability of a local food-production system, serve as community spaces, empower children and adults who want to learn about the connections between ecology, farming and the urban environment, and give West Oakland residents tools for self-reliance."
:: images via City Slicker Farms
See also: Silver Lake Farms (Los Angeles); and an interesting article about a proposal in Cincinnati to push for more urban farms using unused lands. One amazing resource gleaned off Urbanity Sanity is this study from 2002 with the amazing long title: Urban Agriculture and Community Food Security in the United States:Farming from the City Center to the Urban Fringe, a very dense report on, well - the name says it all...
:: Urban Vineyard in Switzerland - image via City Farmer News
The report is produced by the Community Food Security Coalition, a Portland-based ground that is: "...dedicated to building strong, sustainable, local and regional food systems that ensure access to affordable, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food for all people at all times. We seek to develop self-reliance among all communities in obtaining their food and to create a system of growing, manufacturing, processing, making available, and selling food that is regionally based and grounded in the principles of justice, democracy, and sustainability."
Another great resource (again via Urbanity Sanity) is a blog called Civil Eats... with some heady dialogue of a wide-range of food topics... case in point, this great post on The Next Generation of Farmers... 90% of why I grow food and work in landscape architecture is from a childhood of being outdoors and working in the land... how can we pry a new generation back into nature and growing food, and away from the Xbox?
:: image via Civil Eats
A mark of a paradigm shift is definitely some formalization of concepts... making the sub-culture or agri-cultural more aligned with mainstream culture. Urban ag taught in universities is a start. Another such idea is a school of urban farming. The Vancouver Sun recently had an article about one such program in British Columbia - a first in North America. "Instruction would be based on intensive farming on small plots, a heavy dependence on physical labour, ecological sustainability and meeting local market demands, including the food needs of ethnic and immigrant communities. ... the program would require about two hectares of land to start, and could partner with the Richmond Fruit Tree Sharing Project, which already has a presence at the proposed city sites and is growing food for local food banks."
:: image via City Farmer
And finally, because my girlfriend and I are finally diving into the phenomenon of urban chickens... a few resources out there on the topic - all fun. A good resource for starting out is The City Chicken, which summarizes a bunch of info, as well as local regulations for keeping chickens... FYI: "Portland, OR. Three hens allowed without a permit. No roosters. Permit for more costs $31. Keep 25ft. from residences."
:: image via LA Times
And what would an urban phenomenon be without a good design problem. Next task, the coop. Many factors to decide, least of which is the design ( A local event is the Tour de Coops (see the Portland Chickens site on Growing Gardens for more) - which offers a glimpse into the options of coop design in Portland.