Agriculture in the Urban Center

October 23rd, 2012 | Related: ,

Within the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) framework, sustainable landscape equates to the use of native or adaptive vegetation, reducing use of potable water for irrigation, avoiding construction on sensitive sites, reducing stormwater runoff and the preservation or restoration of vegetated areas for habitat. The Sustainable Sites Initiative (SSI) fills the gaps in LEED by also addressing hydrology, soils, human health and wellbeing in the landscape.

These programs offer basic frameworks for improved attention to landscape, but more can still be done to create a holistic relationship within the earth in the context of urban and suburban living.  I’m involved in the growing movement to incorporate edibles into the built environment, to produce a yield to nourish humans and other species, and to increase our connection to the nutrient cycles while saving the embodied energy associated with large scale food production and transportation.

Here at GreenShape we’ve been exploring the idea of how to grow truly local food for years, even before our 2008 work with Shalom Baranes Associates helping USDA to conceptualize a new cafeteria which included vertical and rooftop gardens where “farmers in residence” help visitors learn about the nutrient cycle.

  • I read books about biointensive gardening, container gardening and The Four Season Harvest for residential scale gardening.
  • We installed a rain barrel to the gutter on our Capitol Hill garage (the original home of GreenShape LLC), attempted composting (there have been a few smelly disasters!) and joined a community garden.
  • I learned from good friends who had started CSA farms in Maryland House in the Woods and Jug Bay.
  • I’ve begun to learn about Permaculture, a place-based agricultural design methodology that works with and promotes ecological systems.

Solutions regarding larger scale urban agriculture that we’re currently exploring include:

  • How do we make the economics work for urban agriculture when land is so expensive in our city?
  • What are the legislative limits to what we can do, and what activities are underway to modify them to be more supportive of urban food production?
  • How do we get to the next level on both residential and large scale projects?

Answers to these questions will be the theme of upcoming posts, but for now let’s focus on….

The NEW Green Roof