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Civic Horticulture Conference in Philadelphia includes ‘Productive Gardens’


May 17, 2013, by The Cultural Landscape Foundation & Pennsylvania Horticultural Society

Civic Horticulture Conference
May 17, 2013: The University Of The Arts, Philadelphia, Pa
Presented By: The Cultural Landscape Foundation & Pennsylvania Horticultural Society With Support From: Landscape Forms
See the conference here.
(Must see. Mike)

Excerpts from Abstracts:

Panel 2: The Productive Garden

James F. Lima
The Many Forms of the Productive Garden

After WWII, food production as integral to cities disappeared with the growth of globalized industrial food systems. But increasingly across the country, the “agropolis” is back.

This presentation will set the stage for this panel discussion by looking at how productive gardens take many forms, considering the various entity structures that operate and maintain them. Productive gardens are public, private or quasi-public places. Some are small neighborhood plots designed and maintained in a participatory process. Others have emerged within formal campus settings overseen by universities or public housing authorities. Elsewhere, planting beds on the rooftops of sprawling industrial warehouses are a prized local source of fresh produce, eggs and honey for locavore restaurants and farmers markets. The entities that operate and maintain these gardens range from traditional public parks agencies, to conservancies, Friends of groups, to BIDs and land trusts.

With this established framework, the panel will engage in a discussion of what public policy issues are raised by this fairly recent proliferation of productive civic landscapes? What lessons have been learned to inform shifts in economic, social, environmental, land use and educational policies at the federal, state and local levels? Recognizing that much has been written about the personal and community benefits from increased food security and other sustainable aspects of local food sourcing, this panel will be asked to consider how best to demonstrate that productive gardens are also very much in our regional and national interest.

Elena Brescia, RLA
The Productive Garden

How can we imagine a city as an environmental and cultural system? What are the alternatives to strictly formal, economic, and aesthetic attitudes toward urbanism? This presentation will discuss how landscape can generate a critical participatory effect, and help to envision new ways of intervening in city fabric at the local level.

I envision stewardship, grassroots participation, and neighborhood identity as ways to generate community-based change through the designed landscape. The outreach, design, and construction ?process for SCAPE’s award winning design for the 103rd Street Community garden, in partnership with the NY Restoration Project, will be presented. The idea of the productive garden will be explored through a focus on the garden’s various features, from a rainwater barrel that supports community based agriculture, to cultivated plots, to play spaces and the accommodation of very different needs, ages, and activities in a very small space that has catalyzed the revitalization of the block and neighborhood. The park was in part conceptualized to be built by and was largely executed by local volunteers.

Mia Lehrer, FASLA
Reimagining Victory Gardens

Does ketchup grow on trees? Do strawberries grow on supermarket shelves? Urbanization and industrialization have disconnected us from lands of bounty. This has affected the long and short term health of Americans with increased levels of obesity and diabetes reaching crisis levels. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association February 2010 issue, the rate at which US children are contracting chronic health conditions due to obesity and other risk factors has doubled from 12.8 percent in 1994 to 26.6 percent in 2006.

Is the Slow Food movement going to produce more gourmets and foodies? Is it changing how we shop? Is there a substantial change in how we plant our gardens, schools and underutilized lands? Farmer’s markets have proliferated across America. The Los Angeles Farmer’s Market now accepts food stamps. American wine consumption has escalated 27% since 2000. The attitude is changing radically towards growing food and healthy eating.

Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Detroit, to name a few, have adopted citywide food policies, everything from the regional food distribution system to zoning regulations regarding backyards chickens coops is being evaluated. Can you barter or sell what you grow? Pesticides have to be controlled. Citrus groves planted are for the sweet scent. Olive groves are planted for the “foliage and sculptural trunks.” While people have planted fruit trees for decades in their homes, they did not harvest them.

Today Los Angeles based Food Forward harvests excess fruits and vegetables from private homes and public spaces for local distribution in food banks. SAGE (Sustainable Agriculture Education) in San Francisco, a nonprofit supporting regional food systems and multifunctional agriculture, promotes opportunities for beginning, immigrant, and established farmers to grow food at multiple scales providing food access and public education for local communities. School districts across the state are mandating locally sourced food and vegetables with demonstration gardens making their way into school yards and cooking making its way back into the curriculum. In larger tracks of land and utility corridors, farmers are hard at work.

Urban agriculture is a complex story that is not only about gardens, but is also dependent upon scale, the urban environment, distribution systems, policy, and partnerships. As a landscape architecture firm, we are involved in productive gardens on many scales S, M, L and XL; from community and residential productive food gardens to larger distribution systems and commercial farming enterprises. Presented projects will include Orange County Great Park, a metropolitan park, Jordan Downs, a federal housing project, and the Natural History Museum, an urban laboratory and civic space. Working at multiple scales and with multiple partners, we are able to seek solutions that capitalize on and inspire policy while promoting access to good food and public health continuing to build upon and re-imagine victory gardens as a way for communities to join together and provide for themselves. We take a holistic approach creating an interconnected platform for the built environment.

How do we transform and interconnect people, infrastructure, relationships, policies and sustainability into a new kind of urban ecology that favors urban agriculture? How do we deal with the long term impact of this new urban food model? What will these types of interventions yield; greenhouses perched on the top of every skyscraper, vertical farming mammoths, privatized land banks, or democratized plots of land running through our cities? What IS the future of urban agriculture?

Thomas L. Woltz, FASLA
The Productive Garden: From City Beautiful to City Functional

From the Victorian Era through the City Beautiful Movement and into the Era of Ecology, the productive garden has played a variety of roles from the Ferme Ornee to Victory Garden and on to the Farm to Table Movement. This presentation will posit the next step in Civic Horticulture might be named the “City Functional Movement”, one that operates at the scale of performative urban landscape systems.

The very essence of the word garden conjures fecund visions of productivity, health and abundance but in our current era how we garden can vary dramatically and have serious implications, either positive or negative, for our communities, wildlife, and public health. When studying designed gardens and urban landscapes through the lens of Civic Horticulture, the word productive can take on meaning far beyond vegetables. Management methods, plant choices and design goals can establish new definitions of “productive” in the civic realm that blend concepts of the garden, agriculture and restoration ecology.

My presentation will illustrate this position with a range of projects designed by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects that view ecological services as a critical part of the productivity of a garden. Central to these projects is a deep commitment to the aesthetic qualities of these landscapes and the importance of narrative to engender within the public a sense of stewardship rooted in the cultural construct of the Garden.

Projects will include a winery tasting room vegetable garden in Sonoma California framed by storm water management, a ‘biodiversity’ garden in Manhattan targeting bird habitat, pollinator gardens in urban settings and a vegetable garden in a Virginia public housing complex. A range of scales and projects will be presented to illustrate new definitions of productivity and performance in the Garden.

See the event information here.

See the Abstracts here.