'Garden Blocks' to Feed Urbanity

The relationship between agriculture and cities is becoming increasingly important. Daniel Nairn suggests building "garden blocks" within cities to meet community food needs.

New Urbanists have been pushing the idea of "agrarian urbanism", where slices of urbanism are placed in agricultural areas. Nairn suggests the opposite.

"So can this vision work? Or is building agrarian urbanism like serving a glass of hot cold water? I'd like to play with this a little and consider what it would look like if we followed Duany's vision but flipped it on its head. Instead of embedding hamlets within a rural landscape, the garden block embeds pockets of agriculture within the urban landscape. It is not a stand-alone community but just another gene sequence to be spliced into the DNA of existing inner suburbs and cities.

Start with the standard grid. It can be found all over North America, but the following sketch is based on the 340-by-340-foot block in the Fan neighborhood of Richmond. Cobble together property ownership for the whole block into something like a community land trust. Households would own their home individually but share ownership of the land with the other 38, in this case, units on the block. Certain commitments to planting and maintaining the garden, either personally or through payment, would be built into an HOA contract."

Full Story: Greening—and feeding—the city with a ‘garden block’


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