A Public Good? Reintroducing agriculture production into the design

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  • Oct 21, 2014
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1 A Public good? Reintroducing agriculture production into the design of cities Stephen Luoni, Assoc. AIA Jeffrey Huber, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP

2 Authors Stephen Luoni, Assoc. AIA Jeffrey Huber, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP University of Arkansas Community Design Center 104 N, East Avenue, Suite 1 Fayetteville, AR 72701, USA This manuscript was submitted in conjunction with a national professional conference, The Value of Design: Design & Health, hosted in Washington, D.C., April 22-24, 2014, by the American Institute of Architects Foundation, the American Institute of Architects, and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. Conference staff have edited manuscripts for clarity and style. This project was made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Visit www.aia.org/DesignHealth

3 Wallye have never seen foods true potential, because it is too big to see. But viewed later- it emerges as something with phenomenal power to transform not just landscapes, but political structures, public spaces, social relationships, and cities. Carolyn Steel, Hungry City: How Food Shapes Our Lives Fayetteville 2030: Food City Scenario Plan asks how Design, Health, and the Public Good Fayettevilles explosive growth might be planned to Food City explores the structural connections between sustain its food budget through a localized food sys- urbanism and the growing of food (farming), includ- tem. Sponsored by the Clinton Global Initiative and the ing the processing, distribution, marketing, and waste American Institute of Architects under their Decade of systems (agriculture) that frame food as a public health Design Program, Food City envisions a future based good. Public goods are commonly accessible products upon resilient and recuperative forms of urbanism in an or services that typically fall outside of market dynam- area with high food insecurity. The City of Fayetteville is ics, characterized by non-excludability and non-rivalry. located in Northwest Arkansasthe states most pros- Public goods include clean air, water, knowledge, edu- perous region despite having its highest child hunger cation, law and order, parks, roads, and disease immu- rate. Arkansas already has one of the highest child nity through vaccination. By definition, their individual hunger rates nationally with over 28 percent of children consumption does not prevent nor compromise the food insecure compared to North Dakotas rate of 10 ability of another to do so. Public goods, however, can be percentthe nations lowest. But Arkansas is awash in subjected to overuse, under-production, or degradation, food! Arkansas produces most of the nations rice, ranks leading to characteristic negative externalities described 2nd for chicken production, 3rd for catfish and turkey, as a tragedy of the commons by economist Garrett 5th for sweet potatoes, 6th for grain sorghum, 9th for Hardin (e.g., overgrazing in common pastures by individ- soybeans, 10th for chicken eggs and pecans, and is a ual herders acting rationally to maximize gain, or traffic top-25 producer for beef cows, tomatoes, blueberries, congestion as an overuse of roads). Public goods, then, grapes, watermelons, wheat, corn, oats, peaches, and are not only foundational in the material production of pigs. Northwest Arkansas is home to Tyson Foodsthe cities, but also shape the social and biophysical repro- worlds second-largest protein producerand Walmart, duction of space. The impact of urban food production the nations largest grocer. cuts across many of these systems, holding substantial While concentrated and industrialized agriculture are potential to advance public health through multiple established market forces, localized food economies pathways unforeseen by many planning and policy deci- can address public needs unmet by the market which sion-making communities. are related to resiliency, equity, access, quality, health, In his The Impact of Inequality: How to Make Sick and economic self-sufficiency. Hence, the challenge to Societies Healthier, Richard Wilkinson outlines recent the public health policy and urban planning disciplines insights in the social determinants of health and the alike is formulation of a shared development vocabulary way we are affected by our social environment and the toward reclaiming the option of urban food production. social structures in which we live. This is best under- stood through the concept of epidemiological transition, 1

4 Figure 1: The Five Urban Growing Guilds -fortress plants protect from invasive flora and fauna -insectary plants attract insect pollinators -repellent plants secrete compounds to repel pests stormwater air scrubber metabolizer nitrogen fixers N2 mulch makers particles C K NO3 SO2 N P CO2 CO CFC nutrient accumulators heavy particles CFC metals nutrient accumulators Ca K Mn PO4 NH4 Zn Co N P NO3 Cu Mg Fe 1. permaculture 2. farming and 3. GROW street 4. pollution 5. waste-to- and foraging gardening GROW streets (Gardened Right- remediation energy Permaculture and Farming and gardening of-Way) are associated with Pollution remediation Waste-to-energy dis- foraging landscapes, like requiring management public right-of-ways involving landscapes support safe tricts recycle concentrat- edible forest farms, are of annual landscapes. orchard-lined streets, fruit and nut urban growing, primar- ed production and con- related to successive pe- boulevards, and edible front yards. ily through low impact sumption waste streams rennial landscapes and stormwater manage- from some operations as existing woodlands. ment, and carbon sinks energy for others. for air pollution. 2

5 used to understand changing disease trends in the chains support new trade networks aligning area grow- developed world. Whereas industrial societies have ers with consumers, including large-scale institutions mostly overcome the material causations of infectious with predictable consumption patterns like schools and disease (unsanitary water, unmanaged waste, mal- hospitals. Income tends to be recirculated within strong nutrition, and the like) through the provision of public locally-oriented economies, leveraging all areas of goods, so-called preventable lifestyle diseases from community life especially in the enhancement of social stress, lack of physical activity, and other poor health capital and public goods. habits now dominate modern epidemiological trends. Second, urban land costs and niche markets compel Wilkinson chronicles relationships between cascading investment in the growing of value-added nutritious food setbacks caused by institutionalized stressors in social products within dense plant guilds. A re-emergent and structures and chronic unhealthiness among individuals. intelligent growing model known as SPIN (small plot His analysis draws particular attention to three intercon- intensive) farming based upon permaculture tech- nected stressors common within uneven environments: niques optimizes economic return through advanced low social status, lack of a social network or support, and biodiversity and companion planting. With yields up to unfavorable early childhood conditions. Despite debate $80,000 per acre (vs. a $7,000-10,000/acre average within the health-policy community over the alleviation for commodity crops like rice and corn) agricultural uses of inequality in solving for public healthi.e., is equality a demonstrate returns rivaling land uses with building public health good?we have come to better understand improvements, making small-scale agriculture feasible the built environments role in shaping less-visible longi- once again. tudinal public health narratives with multiple causations. Accordingly, Food City argues that urban food pro- Third, agriculture based upon ecological approaches duction based on sustainable practices can instigate a to food productionagroecologydelivers commu- health reset through its impacts upon social stressors nity-wide ecosystem services including conservation operating within particular demographic health profiles. and regeneration of urban landscapes fragmented by hard-engineered infrastructure. In establishing valu- ations for ecosystem services, ecological economist Why Relocalize Food Production Within the City? Robert Costanza outlines the 17 essential ecosystem Notwithstanding the design professions dedication to services delivered by healthy ecosystems. Agroecologys public health, safety, and welfare, agriculture is absent soft engineering restores those life-affirming ecologi- from American urban planning. Food City does not aim cal services in urban riparian corridors, legacy prairies to replace concentrated agricultural production (many and meadows, forest canopies, and wildlife habitat. love tea and coffee but few can grow either locally), but Besides delivering ecosystem services related to food rather to address the holistic systems driving urban food and water supply, nutrient exchange, pollination, and production as an option for meeting the majority of a climate regulation, agroecology mitigates negative citys nutritional needs. Four multiplier benefits impact- externalities in conventional farming associated with ing public health and well-being derive from relocalized pollution, toxicity, noise, and odor. Food City addresses food production. the greatest ongoing challenge in planninghow to design for human-dominated ecosystems, a phenome- First, agricultural urbanism presents new economic non so global and transformative geologists refer to this development opportunities in the substitution of local present condition as the Anthropocene. food products for those produced in the global indus- trial system. Known as import substitution, local supply 3

6 Fourth, agricultural urbanism fosters healthy lifestyles associated with street orchards and edible front yards; through land development patterns that expand access 4) pollution remediation landscapes that support to affordable nutritious food while supporting agricul- safe urban growing; and 5) waste-to-energy districts tural and food literacy, and promoting physical activity. which upcycle concentrated agriculture and urban waste Food production landscapes not only contribute toward streams. Besides delivery of ecological services, local open space requirements that many cities struggle to food utilities enhance urban services related to clean air meet, but also provide new and unexpected urban liva- and water, transportation, energy and waste manage- bility venues through community harvesting, foraging, ment, and open-space networks. recreation, and wildlife watching. While the urban growing guilds provide a transferable American cities have disassembled their rail transit vocabulary of growing technologies, feeding the city systems and razed countless walkable neighborhoods from middle scale production requires four infrastruc- over the past 80 years, diminishing the role of physical tural formats embedded within urban contextsnutrient activity in everyday routines. Likewise, food production management infrastructure, organic growing media, infrastructure and landscapes have been systematically waste recovery infrastructure, and food processing and dismantled within cities, limiting access to affordable distribution formats. Despite the unfamiliarity of these healthy food. Food City reclaims a missing middle scale infrastructural formats to the contemporary American of urban agricultural land use between the garden and city, they have been formative in other cultural contexts, the industrial farm, raising the chances that a broad- including the late 19th century American city. Their recall based food culture may support improved general health entails recapturing lost intelligence and holistic practices awareness and habits. rendered obsolete by the singularity of industrial food systems. Reconstituting a Missing Middle Scale in Urban Nutrient Management Infrastructure Food Production Soil is everything. In The Upcycle: Beyond Local governments provide public goods such as potable SustainabilityDesigning for Abundance, William water supply, police and fire protection, sewage treat- McDonough and Michael Braungart predict that the ment, waste management, and transportation infra- next green revolution may come from optimizing the structure. Similarly, how might a sustainable foodshed soil. Scientists are already acknowledging peak soil become an ecological utility scaled to community needs among other resource collapses, meaning that the rather than an industrial economy? The missing middle world is losing productive soil at a faster rate than it can urban foodshed functions like an ecological municipal replenish it. Healthy soil structures with robust microbial utility featuring green infrastructure, public growscapes, communities are the determining biophysical factor in and urban spaces for food processing and distribution. plant production and of foods nutrient content, the latter Since growing food in the city entails greater reconcili- a particular ongoing concern even among the largest ation with multiple land uses and scales, Food City for- industrial food companies. mulates an agroecology of urban growing guilds (Figure Food City houses composting districts, territories 1) associated with niche functions: 1) permaculture/ structured around citywide resource recovery and foraging landscapes related to perennial landscapes upcycling to reclaim essential biological macronutri- hosted by existing woodlands; 2) farming and garden- entsphosphorous, nitrogen, and potassiumfrom ing requiring intensive management of annual land- waste (Figure 2). Nutrient management of organic scapes; 3) GROW Streets (Gardened Right-of-Ways) 4

7 Figure 2: Nutrient management infrastructure reclaims essential biological macronutrients 1 White River 2 composting facility 3 anaerobic and aerobic composting 4 vermicomposting (worm-based) 5 stormwater management 6 food forest 7 residential garden block 8 hand-tended farm 9 tractor farm 10 deep litter farm 11 GROW street windbreaks provide wildlife refugia and soil protection from wind erosion. pollutant remediation guild uses plants that can control odors shelterbelts provide refuge for and treat stormwater or remove livestock, control odors, and can airborne particulates. be productive landscapes. 6 6 11 7 8 3 2 4 3 5 1 5 10 8 9

8 Figure 3: Organic growing media infrastructure doubles as a development amenity for neighborhoods material in foodstuffs, plant biomass, yard clippings, and Organic Growing Media infrastructure animal manure involves composting and rebroadcast Besides soil and plant tissue, other growing medium across neighboring farms, gardens, and parks to rebuild include air (aeroponics) and water (hydroponics and community soil structure. Composting eliminates the aquaculture), as well as innovative planning formats need for synthetic fertilizers that destroy topsoil and its like GROW Streets and the ancient agricultural practice organic matter, leach essential nutrients, and reduce of espalier for maximizing woody fruit-bearing plant absorptive capacity and drought tolerance, eventu- productivity in limited urban space. Aquaculture, for ally eliminating farming capacity altogether. Nutrient instance, represents an untapped potential since water management entails a renewed value for the circulation systems can generate a higher level of protein production of organic outputs, particularly animal manure and night per square foot compared to the same land area in ter- soils that were indispensable to the development of restrial systems. By the end of this decade world output early Americas first large-scale commercial agricultural of farmed fish will overtake cattle ranching as a primary sector. protein source according to the Worldwatch Institute. McDonough and Braungart remind us that: In tradi- tional soil farming, the key limiting factor is the active 6

9 Figure 4: Wast recovery infrastructure at the citys Westside Wastewater Treatment Plant transportation of nutrients to the roots. Freshwater landscapes. Urban watersheds can be regenerated aquatic systems are ideal media for vegetation. through community participation in the nutrient man- agement of habitat by feeding food wastes to fish or Food City proposes the harnessing of local water bodies submerging used Christmas trees in ponds for habitats, as new food-producing neighborhood commons (Figure for instance. 3). Aquaculture technologies range from intensive (e.g., commercial hatcheries) to extensive, the latter being Waste Recovery Infrastructure pond systems integral to enveloping urban or agricultural We now expend ten calories in fossil-fuel energy to land uses and open to foraging. Production compo- secure one calorie of food energy, the inverse from just nents, including broodstock holding, hatchery, nursing, 50 years ago. Philip Ackerman-Leist in Rebuilding the grow-out, and quarantining for acclimation and disease Foodshed: How to Create Local, Sustainable, and Secure control, become place-making assets. While much Food Systems sums up the current dilemma: The vast research is still needed to determine the scalability of majority of our local food systems are not self-reliant aquaculture and its fit within urban land uses, along with or self-sustaining in terms of fertility inputs, much less more understanding of fish-growing structures, ponds energyResource recovery drives regenerative food have traditionally served as productive neighborhood systems. Keeping in mind that farming is foremost an 7

10 Figure 5: Food processing, distribution, and planning infrastructure support Food Citys agroeconomy 1 existing big box retail center 2 food hub 3 residential garden block 4 fruit orchards 5 growing terraces 6 greenhouse on big box retail Fayetteville food sorting/ nut shelling packaging/ packing facility carving food cooking/ storage abattoir seed bank processing education farmers livestock farmers cooperative exchange animal show baking market supply 5 6 2 4 1 1 3 8

11 energy system, local food systems elevate a citys resil- farm-centered subdivisions, invest in technological iency or adaptability to systemic disruptions and shocks innovationsand a lot more. Community-scaled food from black swan eventsan often overlooked public processing and distribution facilities, which include health good. local abattoirs, have disappeared with the consolidation of industrial agriculture. Relocalized food economies Food City situates waste recovery facilities that sort, require processing infrastructure scaled to the algo- reclaim, and upcycle nutrients in waste streams at the rithms of small to mid-size farming. Here, Food Citys citys wastewater treatment plants (Figure 4). Biosolids hub aggregates facilities for food processing, preparation are recovered for fertilizer, gas from biodigestion and and packaging, distribution, and marketing at a big box for energy supply, and clean effluent for greenhouse district into town forms (Figure 5). These agricultural ur- irrigation, hydroponics, and aquaponics. Closing the banism real estate products constitute special communi- loop mitigates a problematic resource transfer locally ty third placesneither home nor workplacegiven the where municipal water supply drawn from the White powerful social force of food. River Watershed is discharged as treated effluent to the Illinois River Watershed. Food Citys sustainable farming rebalances both urban and watershed metabo- Conclusion lisms through nutrient management and the creation of Far beyond a simple land-use, agricultural urbanism manageable closed energy loops. is an energy system that supports healthy cities by An adjacent Microgeneration Park aggregates heavy restructuring the citys relationship to its ecosystems, energy users to co-generate heat and power where natural resources, food production, and social capital. inputs and outputs are exchanged and upcycled as a With growing demand for alternatives to industrial supplement to central grid-connected power. Breweries, food production, urban food production will necessarily distilleries, greenhouses and vertical farms for growing embrace holistic permaculture strategies while providing plants and animals are combined with the municipal public goods (e.g., resiliency, ecosystem services, access, wastewater facility using appropriately-scaled technol- improved nutrition, health, literacy, and equity) to secure ogies in anaerobic digestion, fermentation, distillation, its viability. The focus on public goods highlights the and mechanical biological treatment. These appropriate niche opportunities in framing food production as a local technologies better align the scale and power intensity utility that can solve for myriad challenges confronting of a technology to an intended outcome for a given cities. Food City in particular provides a framework for location. Cross-programming these land uses moves us building prosperity and security back into placemaking closer toward a zero-waste production ecosystem. in an area where a significant portion of the population experiences compounded stress from combined eco- Food Processing, Distribution and Planning nomic and social factors. The challenge ahead for the infrastructure public health policy and design communities is to forge The rising demand for local food has a rippling effect, as a shared work vocabulary that connects the dots among Peter Ladner attests in his The Urban Food Revolution: evidence-based practices. Changing the Way We Feed Cities. The more con- sumers insist on fresh, local food, the more businesses will spring up to supply local seeds, test soil, package and sell compost, manage temporary land leases, supply local processing, grow indoor greens, develop 9

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