We have to rethink the ways in which we produce and distribute food. That’s a fact that’s becoming increasingly clear.
It’s a sentiment we’re hearing more and more from economists, agricultural experts and climate change scientists. It’s also echoed by one of the world’s most famous urban planners, Andrés Duany, founding principal of the Miami-based Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company (DPZ) planning and design firm.
Duany, who is leading our Mission Road charrette starting on June 15, will be talking about the intersection of food production challenges and urban planning on June 17. The presentation is free and open to everyone. It begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Glenbow Museum Theatre. Download the promotional flyer here (1.5mb .pdf).
So what does food production have to do with planning for cities and neighbourhoods?
Duany is one of the pioneers of strategies for “agricultural urbanism.“ Behind the strategies is a theory of integration. Like other human activities, growing food can be successfully integrated into the fabric of community life, provided it’s done at the appropriate scale and in character with the surroundings. We’re not talking about abandoning cities and neighbourhoods and moving back to farms, says Duany. Nor is he arguing for redesigning cities and neighbourhoods to accommodate industrial agriculture or huge swaths of “green belts.”
We have to be smarter than that, Duany argues. We have to make places for producing healthy food throughout the full range of human habitat, whether we’re talking about the heart of Calgary or in successively less dense neighbourhoods all the way out to relatively unpopulated areas.
It’s a matter of thinking in terms of design that retains all the advantages of properly scaled urbanism, including the pleasures of living in company with other humans, yet adds the advantage of producing, distributing and consuming food close to home. For a look at a previous Duany lecture in this topic, check out this video:
There are unexpected pluses from this rethinking of community and agriculture, especially in an era in which so many people embrace farmer’s markets and local food. Instead of being an annoyance to nearby homeowners and a detractor from real estate value, agriculture done at the proper scale can become an amenity. In fact, says Duany, “agriculture can be the new golf.”
Duany will be talking about that on June 17. Everyone is welcome.