Garden Cities of To-day

carrot cityduany

In the past few months, we have done numerous posts on food and the city. Just last week we wrote about the farmer’s market movement, and before that we touted several recent books on our greening urban landscape.

There’s no hotter topic today than urban agriculture — growing healthy local food in a myriad of neglected city spaces. Garden Cities: Theory & Practice of Agrarian Urbanism by Andres Duany presents a visionary outline that harmonizes urban and agrarian environments. But how to blend homes, industry, and agriculture?

The answer to that question can be found in the new book Carrot City: Creating Places for Urban Agriculture by Mark Gorgolewski, June Komisar, and Joe Nasr. This thickly illustrated book profiles 40 projects (both conceptual, and actually built) that show how important architecture, landscape design, and urban planning are to the future of urban food systems. Carrot City demonstrates how industrial wastelands along highways and railways can be transformed into productive patches of healthy produce. Community gardens can be tucked under raised highways, or scattered across a network of edible front yards. Other projects successfully employ living walls and productive green roofs. Interior spaces offer great potential as well:

indoor farm
Niagara Community Food Centre — Toronto, Canada: a proposed market/greenhouse to be built along the city’s rail corridor (designed by Jordan Kemp Edmonds). The Greenhouse (pictured above) will employ rainwater harvesting, solar energy, and a geothermal storage system.

And talk about building both community, and a healthy food system! As we wrote just last week, schoolyards are, slowly but surely, transforming asphalt into something new:

The Edible Schoolyard, P.S. 216, Brooklyn, New York, a design by the Work Architectural Company: Schools offer a unique opportunity to energize families, and train the next generation of urban farmers!

Carrot City is an inspiring book, full of innovative ideas. Here’s two of our favorite books that move beyond the design phase, focusing in on a particular city, and the practical lessons learned along the way:

Growing a Garden City, Jeremy Smith’s story of how Missoula, Montana embraced the local food movement with city gardens, community-supported agriculture, and farm work-therapy programs. (This past year, Jeremy gave a wonderful slide show based on his book, for our ongoing Rocky Mountain Land Series). Also pictured above, here’s invaluable lessons learned from one of America’s pioneering urban food systems: Greening Cities, Growing Communities: Learning from Seattle’s Urban Community Gardens by Jeffrey Hou, Julie Johnson, and Laura Lawson.

There are many, many excellent books on this vibrant topic, including this classic book, from more than a hundred years ago:

Sir Ebenezer Howard’s Garden Cities of To-Morrow was first published in 1898 (with the original title of To-morrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform). Howard’s passionate vision called for towns free of slums, and enjoying the benefits of both town and country. Howard’s work inspired the Garden City movement of the last century, and his influence is still being felt today. Ebenezer Howard’s unique approach is well captured in his intriguing Group of Slumless, Smokeless Cities diagram (picture above) that accompanied the 1902 edition of Garden Cities of To-morrow.

For other great resources on the urban food movement, you might want to link back to a few our our earlier posts!

Think Vertical (vertical farms in the city)

Tools for the Urban Homesteader

The Endless Bounty of Once Neglected Land (the English Allotment system)


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