Over the last two months, I have conducted a research project focused upon urban farms and city planning, for the course City Planning 252 (“Land Use Controls”), taught by Professor Fred Etzel at UC Berkeley. Below is a brief introduction to this work in progress, and you can download a full PDF file of the current report by clicking here, or on the link that follows the introduction. Your attention and feedback is appreciated!
Vitalizing the Vacant: The Logistics and Benefits of Middle- to Large-Scale Agricultural Production in Urban Land
For decades, community and backyard gardens have been a source of fresh produce for America’s city dwellers. During World War II, the government encouraged the country to plant Victory Gardens, and 20 million Americans produced nearly 40% of the produce consumed nationally. Since the mid-1990s, the increasingly detrimental effects of industrial agriculture upon environmental and human health have come to the attention of US consumers. Urban populations across the country have begun to demand access to affordable, nutritious, chemical-free foods, grown by trustworthy farmers, within one to two hundred miles from their homes. Urban planners have learned to design spaces for farmers markets and other venues where fresh, regionally grown produce can be sold, and to incorporate these designs into their city plans. More than a few city dwellers, however, have increased their access to clean, healthy foods in a way that is yet more resourceful, hands-on, and close to home.
Urban farms are gaining ground in cities across the country.
An urban farm is considered to be one or more sites within the boundaries of a city, where the soil is cultivated for edible plants, and where the food produced is shared (whether for-profit or not, by sales or donation) with individuals other than the farmers themselves. The existing sites currently known as urban farms usually occupy a total of at least 1/4 acre (or 10,890 ft2) and have established a formal food distribution system, often selling through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), at farmers markets, and to local restaurants. Urban farms are organized, productive, stable operations, and often serve their surrounding communities through educational workshops, job training programs, and other activities.
This study was compiled to provide planners with six existing models of urban farms, and to aid in the development of city plans that prioritize local food production. Vitalizing the Vacant considers the logistics and benefits of putting urban land into agricultural use, and highlights six farms all located within the urban boundaries of major cities across the United States.