2011.03.17  Urban Agriculture 2008

Farm Plus investigated mechanisms by which landscape architects can create and preserve active farmland in urbanized areas. Research focused primarily on innovative partnerships between landowners and farmers. A secondary focus was identifying new formal expressions for urban farms. The research engages some of the critical issues surrounding community food security, the urbanization of farmlands and environmental sustainability, while suggesting an innovative arena of action for landscape professionals. Ten farms were visited over a span of five months, in four U.S. metropolitan areas and in Europe. Projects studied included a CSA in Portland, OR operating from two locations – sixteen acres on city-managed open lands and twelve acres in a public park; a forty-five acre farm in a planned housing community outside Chicago, IL; a twenty-five acre CSA farm in a public park outside Boston, MA; and an ag park where six farmers share parcels on eighteen acres located on a public utility easement near San Francisco, CA.

All projects were small organic farms, ranging in size from two to forty-five acres. The farms are businesses, almost all financially self-sufficient, not educational or demonstration farms. The farms used a variety of markets including CSAs, farmers markets, food cooperatives, produce brokers and direct sales to restaurants. The farms uniformly reported strong business growth and potential, and positive or neutral feedback from the surrounding community. Ability to assess yields from the farms varied, but on average a farm with diversified crops was able to provide produce for nineteen families from one acre.

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Urban Agriculture 2008
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