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Page added on May 25, 2010

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New Urbanism for the Apocalypse

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Agrarian urbanism, he explained, is different from both “urban agriculture” (“cities that are retrofitted to grow food”) and “agricultural urbanism” (“when an intentional community is built that is associated with a farm).” He was thinking bigger: “Agrarian urbanism is a society involved with the growing of food.” America abounds with intentional communities, he pointed out — golf course communities, equestrian ones, even the fly-in kind. So why not build one for locavores? And they can have as much land as they like — it’s just that they would have gardens instead of yards, or community gardens and window boxes if they choose to live in an apartment. Their commitment to “hand-tended agriculture” would be part of their legally binding agreement with the homeowners’ association. “You design your own utopia,” he said. Instead of a strip mall in the town square, there’s a “market square” comprised of green markets, restaurants, cooking schools, an agricultural university, and so on. “This thing pushes buttons like mad,” he said. “The excitement this triggers — they get as excited about this as they did in the old days about the porch and the walkable community.”

Duany conceded growing food is hard work, which is why his agrarian communities would still end up hiring Hispanic laborers to do the dirty work. But “you don’t pretend they don’t exist,” he said in a particular utopian moment. “The people who grow the food must be known to the kids. And they’re the ones who actually know what they’re doing — they know how to build buildings and they know how to grow food.” The money to pay for them — and for the farms — already exists in developers’ landscaping budgets. Stop building golf courses and start building farms, in other words. “We have American cheap labor, too,” he said. “Ourselves, except we’re spending it on ornamental bushes.”

FastCompany



2 Comments on "New Urbanism for the Apocalypse"

  1. Elizabeth Madrigal on Wed, 26th May 2010 1:34 am 

    Honestly, I think this a wonderful idea and have already put it into practice in my own yard. Almost 18 years ago we planted a hobby orchard and landscaping that had to provide at least one of the following (a) looked beautiful, provided shade, nuts or fall color (b) flowered (c) produced wildlife habitat or (d) food for us. Now in this order every year we enjoy: cherries, plums, blueberries, raspberries, elderberries, figs, blackberries, huckleberries, pears, apples, kiwis and our vegetable garden from about August through October. There are some things like acorns and hazelnuts that the squireels and jays get first, but that’s okay. This year I even added container gardening – to see how to avoid having to weed – and am growing fingerling potatoes in one trash can and sugar snap peas in the other. Did I also mention I grow cooking herbs – just added a bay laurel to the mix – which I gift to my children for Christmas? Honestly, once the trees, vines and berry bushes are in the ground, you feel like you are living in the Garden of Eden. And we are completely organic. That’s what our cities should feel like and we can make it happen.

    Yes, pruning and watering can be time-consuming, but when you start to see wild animals travel through your yard with daily frequency, you know you’ve done something right.

  2. Judy on Wed, 26th May 2010 8:57 am 

    We live where the soil is more than rocky. Plus we wanted to keep gardening to a minumum. We still wanted an orchard. We decided to plan one in pots. Another advantage is if we move we can take it with us. So far it is working!

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