Newest eco-development model: ‘Agricultural urbanism’
Farms and gardens would be key to a self-sustaining 2,000-home development envisioned in British Columbia.
An eight-day charrette in May, led by Andres Duany, laid out an innovative, agriculturally-oriented path that new urbanists could start using in communities that are worried about losing farm land.
Duany and other new urbanists collaborated with Michael Ableman, an organic farmer and author, to show how a 538-acre tract near Vancouver, British Columbia, could accommodate nearly 2,000 housing units and at the same time foster a wide range of food-producing activities.
The new approach — “agricultural urbanism” — calls for carefully fitting numerous food-related activities, including small farms, shared gardens, farmers’ markets, and agricultural processing, into a walkable community.
“What’s unique about this project,” says Marina Khoury, director of town planning at Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co. (DPZ), “is that we’re trying to integrate agriculture and urbanism at all levels” — from high-density housing with window boxes, to somewhat less dense houses with kitchen gardens, to quarter-acre plots, 50-acre farms, and perhaps one 160-acre farm.
If the approach succeeds on the site just north of the US border, it could become an influential model, counteracting the interrelated problems of