Suggesting that our food be produced where it is consumed, in cities and suburbs, seems somehow romantic, foolish and utopian. While we may never be able to produce all the food we need at our back steps, there is room for insertions, acts of radical agriculture, cooperative partnerships that supplement the industrial system while questioning its wisdom. One strategy is to foster partnerships between landholders and farmers, creating hybrid agricultural landscapes. These sorts of cooperative ventures can be found across the country - farms inserted in housing and parks, bordering playgrounds and wetlands, producing food for their immediate communities. This study examines some of the precedents, establishing a working framework for landscape architects and planners to create and preserve agriculture in the built environment.
Ellen Burke is a San Francisco-based landscape designer with a particular interest in productive landscapes and urban ecologies.