Agricultural Urbanism and Urban Agriculture

… are, believe it or not, two entirely different things.

Agricultural Urbanism is “a planning, policy, and design framework that focuses on integrating a wide range of sustainable food system elements into urban planning projects and neighbourhoods.” This is about city planning, starting at the construction (or restructuring) phase to integrate agriculture into urban and suburban planning. Grist.org had a good article on Agricultural Urbanism last week, and the article focused on Prairie Crossing in IL. The neighborhood sounds like any backyard gardener and local foodie’s wet dream, except that it’s packed full of luxury homes and condos. So where do all of the service people live? Where do the maids, the janitors and the waiters live? Does Prairie Crossing have a ghetto, and do they get to participate in the Prairie Crossing Institute? Do their children get to go to Prairie Crossing charter school? If not, is it really a sustainable community?

Urban Agriculture has me much more hopeful right now. Urban Agriculture is fitting gardening or farming into the urban landscape, using empty lots and abandoned properties to produce food. I just bought my first issue of Urban Farm magazine, and I’m really excited to see a magazine that focuses on inexpensive solutions, work-sharing and do-it-yourselfing rather than just “go out and buy this thing”. I found the articles informative and inspirational, to be honest. As someone trying to organize a community garden at my apartment complex and gardening in pots in my tiny backyard, urban agriculture hits much closer to home for me, and I’m sure it will for most people until Agricultural Urbanism development can reach those in the middle- and lower-income brackets.

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