Carrot City: Creating Places for Urban Agriculture

Source: Ryerson University     

Everyone knows they should eat lots of fruits and vegetables. But the produce we eat doesn’t have to come from distant farmlands; it can be cultivated in the heart of the city. A new book by three Ryerson University researchers shows that urban agriculture can lead to visually striking and artistically interesting design solutions which in turn help foster communities and provide residents with immediate access to fresh, healthful ingredients.

Carrot City: Creating Places for Urban Agriculture (The Monacelli Press), which was released this month, is one of the first books of its kind to study the complementary relationship between urban agriculture and design. The book, intended for architects, design students and food-policy makers, presents strategies to enable sustainable food production and reintroduce urban agriculture to cities.

Carrot City was written by Mark Gorgolewski, professor of architectural science and director of the Canada Green Building Council; June Komisar, professor of architectural science and a member of the Toronto Food Policy Council; and Joe Nasr, an instructor in the certificate program in food security offered by Ryerson’s G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education, and a co-ordinator at MetroAg: Alliance for Urban Agriculture. All three authors are associates at Ryerson’s Centre for Studies in Food Security, which promotes food security through research, dissemination, education, community action and professional practice.

“Urban agriculture provides city-dwellers with easy access to fresh veggies and cultural foods,” says Komisar. “It also teaches children about the importance of eating vegetables, and provides more nutritious food than the produce that is trucked in from great distances.”

While agriculture was once part of the urban landscape, it was eventually pushed out by municipal governments and the globalization of food production. Gorgolewski notes that a shift is underway. “In the late 20th century, people began to take notice of food issues and the growing importance of agriculture in urban design. Now, people ask ‘why don’t we create a green roof?’”

Showcasing the best in current design, Carroty City features more than 40 innovative projects, both conceptual and realized, that explore creative approaches to making space for urban food production. Ranging from ambitious urban plans to simple measures for growing food at home, the projects demonstrate what happens when city planning and architecture consider food production a requirement of design. The spectacular results include more community gardens, greenhouses that are tucked under raised highways, walls that bring greenery into dense city blocks, and green roofs on schools and large apartment buildings that can be tended and harvested by students and residents alike.

Carrot City grew out of an ongoing collaboration among Gorgolewski, Komisar and Nasr. With their overlapping interests in urban agriculture and sustainable design, the trio eventually came together and developed a 2008 Ryerson symposium on the role of food and agriculture in the design of buildings and cities.

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