Posts Tagged ‘urban agriculture’

As announced, here are some notes on the Food and The City expert meeting held at the Amsterdam’s Academy of Architecture.

Our purpose was to collect ideas and data on the impact of food production on the environment and society, and to provide possible strategies to overcome the ongoing food crisis for VOLUME’s issue on Sustainability.

Three different models and ways of thinking the present and the future of agriculture were confronted, but some initial points were shared among our guests:

  • The era of the Green Revolution has come to an end: our agricultural model – as it is based on massive use of fossil fuel, – is today economically inefficient, and noxious for the environment
  • For this reason, the Green Revolution food system is no longer able to feed a growing world population and to deal with poverty and social inequalities
  • New models of food production, processing, retail and consumption are needed to overcome the present crisis
  • All the possible new models must get food production back to the urban environment

Peter Smeets from Wageningen University presented data and future projection on agricultural markets and techniques, showing advanced technologies able to reduce energy and chemical inputs, improving yields and profitability of agriculture enterprises. Food production, especially high added value crops, should be integrated in the metropolitan areas, taking advantage from transporation, cognitive and technological networks. Forms of international horizontal and vertical labour division are welcome in this model, taking advantage of comparative production costs.

On the contrary, artist and designer Debra Solomon criticized this position, claiming that hi-tech developments require a further centralization of the food industry in few, big corporations, threatening the delicate balance of local food systems and expropriating communities from their right to food sovreignity.
For this reason, she advocates the development of light technologies designed around communities, seeking integration with other urban activities.

Architect Jago van Bergen, presented a totally different approach.
A future crisis scenario – the rising sea level and the salinization of agricultural land in the Randstad area – is taken as an opportunity to re-think agricultural production, giving the possibility to design for the first time a true, genuine “Dutch cuisine”, generated by the specificities of the Randstad territory.

Contributions from Debra Solomon, Jago van Bergen and from the Alterra department of Wageningen Universities will be featured in VOLUME 18.

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[1] Atlas of hidden water may avert future conflict (article/ New Scientist)
[2] Depletion and Abundance: Life On The New Home Front – Sharon Astyk (book review)
[3] Call for entries (journal/ Bracket)
[4] City Eco Lab (event/ Biennale Internationale Design – Saint Etienne)
[5] Urban Farmer Will Allen receives award

[1]
Atlas of hidden water may avert future conflict – Article from New Scientist, 24 October, 2008

They are one of the world’s greatest and most precious natural resources, yet are entirely hidden. Now, for the first time, a high-resolution map shows where underground aquifers store vast amounts of water.

[2]
Depletion and Abundance: Life On The New Home Front – Sharon Astyk is a writer, teacher and subsistence farmer, and the author of two forthcoming books on Peak Oil and Climate Change — Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Home Front (Fall ‘08) and A Nation of Farmers (And Cooks) (Spring ‘09), the latter co-authored with Aaron Newton. Both books are forthcoming from New Society Publishers.

Review by Amanda Kovattana at Energy Bulletin
Commentary: “Unplugged – or unhinged” by John Thackara at Doors of Perception

[3]
Call for entries on the theme of farming by the new journal (annually) Bracket, founded by InfraNet Lab and Archinect.

timetable: Submissions due: February 2, 2009 / Jury Review: February 2009 / Notification and Editing: March 2009 / Book release: October 2009

theme: The first edition of [bracket] is centered around the theme of farming. Once merely understood in terms of agriculture, today information, energy, labour, and landscape, among others, can be farmed. Farming harnesses the efficiency of collectivity and community. Whether cultivating land, harvesting resources, extracting energy or delegating labor, farming reveals the interdependencies of our globalized world. Simultaneously, farming represents the local gesture, the productive landscape, and the alternative economy. The processes of farming are mutable, parametric, and efficient. From terraforming to foodsheds to crowdsourcing, farming often involves the management of the natural mediated by the technologic. Farming, beyond its most common agricultural understanding is the modification of infrastructure, urbanisms, architectures, and landscapes toward a privileging of production. more …

[4]
City Eco Lab at Biennale Internationale Design – Saint Etienne – 15-30 November, 2008

City Eco Lab is an event, a market of travelling projects that bears witness to experiments carried out around the country. For this reason, the 2008 biennial, will organise workshops, encounters and exchanges centred around daily life themes: foodstuffs, water, energy, mobility etc. Visitors will be encouraged to think about how they might use these commodities in a more sustainable world.

City Eco Lab blog and an outline by John Thackara (the curator)

[5]
Urban Farmer Will Allen receives award, a (50.000 USD) genius grant from the MacArthur Foundation:

Will Allen is an urban farmer who is transforming the cultivation, production, and delivery of healthy foods to underserved, urban populations. In 1995, while assisting neighborhood children with a gardening project, Allen began developing the farming methods and educational programs that are now the hallmark of the non-profit organization Growing Power, which he directs and co-founded. Guiding all is his efforts is the recognition that the unhealthy diets of low-income, urban populations, and such related health problems as obesity and diabetes, largely are attributable to limited access to safe and affordable fresh fruits and vegetables. more info about Allen at Macarthur

Here the NYT article: “An Urban Farmer Is Rewarded for His Dream

Did you know? Cities have always been shaped by food.

Different systems of food production, storage, distribution, and consumption patterns affected the form of cities in history, from the first cities of Mesopotamia, to the proto-hydroponic terraces of Machu Picchu, from the post-war Western cities to the Southern Megalopolis.

Our food system is the product of the so-called Green Revolution, begun in the Fourties. But today the Green Revolution shows its limits. Of course, it is criticized by ecologists and anti-globalization activists for the damages it causes to the environment and for its negative consequences for the poor in developing countries. But also, seems that the Green Revolution techniques are no longer profitable for the agriculture businness.

Therefore, a new, Greener Revolution is about to come.

Will it be based on new, hi-tech, top-down solutions, or through on the empowerment of local communities with low tech, convivial lifestyles? How will the post- Green Revolution cities look like? How to overcome the ongoing global food crisis? What about biofuels?

We will discuss these and other topics next Wednesday at the Academy of Architecture in Amsterdam, together with Debra Solomon, Peter Smeets, Steef Buijs, Jago van Bergen, Henk de Zeeuw, Henk van Latestijn and Rutger Groot Wassink.

The results of the meeting will be featured in this blog, and in Volume 18.