The rendering of Oakland Avenue Urban Farm’s iconic “Yellow House” headquarters (image courtesy Akoaki)

h/t Bryan Boyer/Anya Sirota via Hyperallergic


Networked, ad hoc, urban agriculture?

I first saw this commercial about a month ago. However, I kept forgetting to jot down the specific company information and couldn’t find the video, via Google. Finally, did though. The commercial seems particularly noteworthy.

I wonder if this commercial is a good example of the sort of hacktivism, networked market oriented, interventions we were talking about during our mammoth book club discussion of The Infrastructural City.

The whole episode is also citizen lead and network facilitated.

It is also interesting to see a company use community gardening as as sort of greenwash and marketing for their apps.

And note that one of the commentators on Youtube rightly point out the issue of class and if this is the future of civic and urban intervention than you have a question about access and perhaps a right to the “digital city”???

LG Mobile Phones Commercial – Optimus S – “Empty Lot”

A fruit focused urbanism?

Last spring, Fallen Fruit walked LACMA’s grounds with the City Culture columnist, pointing out what were then the seeds of gardens, as well as other provocations and contemplations. Settling down on the soft earth adjacent to work by the National Bitter Melon Council and DidierHess (of Materials & Applications fame), Burns, Viegener, and Young expanded on how, why, and what they do. Some highlights from the conversation include:

Ultimately, what the work of Fallen Fruit does is use fruit as a lens through which to explore the interaction of citizens with each other and their urban environment.

Dave Burns: “It’s also about creating different kinds of agency and different kinds of community. Collaborating with space is a lot of what we’re doing; and we’re asking citizens to be active in authoring where they live, and taking a particular neighborhood and transforming it.”

Matias Vieneger: “In the maps [we make], its really important to us that the locations are approximate. Because we really want people to walk down and know somewhere on the street is a peach tree – but where is it? And look at everything else before they find the peach tree. It’s a whole way of getting people to look at cities and neighborhoods in a way that they don’t usually do.”

More via Next American City’s City Culture blog (Part 1)

Matias Viegener: “One of the things we like to say is that you can’t wish away the problem. If the fruit is not harvested, it will attract rodents. So putting in a fruit tree establishes a certain obligation among the people who live nearby and these trees have to be taken care of by people or they shouldn’t exist.

And later in (Part 2)

How many community gardens are there in NYC?

Via this awesome post over at Edible Geography I learned about Mara Gittleman, Compton Mentor Fellow at GrowNYC, who has been working on answering exactly that question. As well as calculating (not estimating) exactly how much agricultural product is actually produced in the city. During her research she produced this map below, which I really loved.

IMAGE: Map showing community gardens in New York City, 2010, by Mara Gittleman.

7 specific UA recommendations for policy makers

These 7 recommendations are from the conclusion of the book Growing better Cities: Urban Agriculture for Sustainable which I reviewed on Archinect (here).
1) Municipal governments need to start with the right question. This is “what can UA do for my city?”.

2) UA must be used to make suitable vacant space productive for all.

3) Include UA as an urban land use category and as an economic function in your planning system/manual.

4) Use a participatory policy-making approach.

5) Experiment with temporary occupancy permits (TOPS) for urban producers using private and public open space.

6) Support the organization of poor urban producers to manage UA in more and better ways.

7) Bring the needed research in tune with your policy exercise at the earliest possible opportunity.

What else can be said? Nothing.This book ends like so many books which explore the possibilities of agriculture within the urban landscape, with a depiction of the future. Pictured is an urban landscape in the year 2025 wherein agriculture has been integrated and developed, for use by the city (as infrastructure system), and citizens as both leisure and productive landscape with which they interact. Continuous Productive Urban Landscapes (C.P.U.L.s) ended similarly. What is it about the concept of UA which invites such futurism and utopian picturing? Perhaps, it is still the influence of/desire for the pastoral? However, I think we are all to accepting of the contemporary urban condition to be truly pastoral. Meaning now the future as designers imagine it is an agriculture not outside of the city but in (or even on in many cases) the city. Integrated into, the city as farm-land. Though we may long in some way for the countryside. I think it is also the fact that UA addresses such fundamental concerns. Food, especially is a requirement not a luxury. Yet, nothing involves such ritual or mythic imagining as food… There is a creative narrative aspect to food, inherently.

Long live the conceptual grower.

Raoul Vaneigem on Urbanism

His definition of urbanism;

Urbanism is the ideological gridding and control of individuals and society by an economic system that exploits man and Earth and transforms life into a commodity. The danger in the self-built housing movement that is growing today would be to pay more attention to saving money than to the poetry of a new style of life.

On how urban agriculture can contribute to a future  ecological urbanism;

By drawing inspiration from Alphonse Allais, by encouraging the countryside to infiltrate the city. By creating zones of organic farming, gardens, vegetable plots, and farms inside urban space. After all, there are so many bureaucratic and parasitical buildings that can’t wait to give way to fertile, pleasant land that is useful to all. Architects and squatters, build us some hanging gardens where we can go for walks, eat, and live!

And finally on the potential for resiliency and self-sufficient communities;

Natural resources belong to us, they are free, they must be made to serve the freedom of life. It will be up to the communities to secure their own energy and food independence so as to free themselves from the control of the multinationals and their state vassals everywhere. Claiming natural power for our use means reclaiming our own existence first. Only creativity will rid us of work.

From Hans Ulrich Obrist: In Conversation with Raoul Vaneigem in E-Flux (here)

H/T Arthur Magazine (here)

Urban agriculture-factoring in externalities

The National Building Museum’s well-known “For the Greener Good” series featured a panel on urban agriculture which was reviewed and summarized by ASLA’s The Dirt blog. One key point which was made was the need for identifying the non-traditional economic benefits (to people, place and community) from urban agriculture. The opposite of an approach typified by the phrase “tragedy of the commons”.

Josh Viertel: Does urban farming have to create a profit? Parks don’t turn a profit but they provide valuable environmental services. Urban agriculture has a public health value, can provide a carbon sink, store waste water. These farming spaces can provide a range of hard-to-quantify services.

Via ASLA’s THe Dirt (here)