The Food Factor

The Aug/Sept 2009 issue of Planning focuses on the connection between planning and food.   The issue includes articles about farm and farmland preservation techniques, urban farming, community gardens in Montreal, edible front yards, rooftop gardens in Vancouver, the urban chicken movement in Chicago, the school gardening movement in Berkeley, California, vertical gardens in LA, and converting vacant land to community gardens in Detroit.  

In the article "A Serious Flirt with Dirt", Greg Flisram describes the variety of movements that are creating a revival of urban farming:

Urban farming isn't new, of course.  Ad hoc gardening organizations and university extension programs exist in most major cities.  What is new is its growing influence as a community and economic development tool. 

Several intertwined movements are giving urban farming new impetus.  These include: slow food. . . , "buy local" campaigns, organics, the explosion of farmers markets, green city initiatives, and rising public concerns over food safety, security, access, and cost.

Many experts also now believe that traditional rural agriculture will not be able to keep pace with global food demand in the coming years . . . Finally, real estate markets in many of these cities have tanked, lessening the demand for vacant sites.  All of these factors are creating fertile ground for urban agriculture on an entirely new scale. 

This issue of Planning offers inspiration and a broader perspective for our work in Massachusetts with the Community Preservation Act and beyond to preserve farmland and create community gardens.

I welcome your comments and thoughts on this issue of Planning.  I also welcome you to share your stories  - Have you created any community gardens or preserved active farmland in your community or do you have plans to?