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thoughts, ideas + dialogues on urban revitalization, smart growth + neighborhood development
Curated by Lauren Moss
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Urban farms won't feed us, but they just might teach us

Urban farms won't feed us, but they just might teach us | green streets |

It's clear that the craze for the urban farm is no answer to feeding our teeming cities. Its value lies instead in how it can change us.

If we want to scale up regional food systems, it seems like it would be a great idea to grow a significant amount of our calories right in our cities. It’s a beautiful concept, reuniting humans and nature to solve many of the problems brought about by our urbanization. But talking to urban farmers and reading the recent research turned a cold hose (of reclaimed rooftop drain water) on my enthusiasm.

There’s a backlash underway against the general exuberance over urban farming, and, surprisingly, it’s coming from urban farmers. It’s a measured, cautious backlash — less pendulum swing than correction...

Suzette Jackson's curator insight, May 1, 2014 8:57 PM

Urban Farming is not the only solution towards feeding the growing population in cities but it certainly contributes to greater food resilience, habitat and biodiversity in cities. It makes a valuable contribution to local economy and food access which is part of a much bigger picture.

Judit Urquijo's curator insight, May 13, 2014 4:08 AM

Nueva vuelta de tuerca a un tema relacionado con los techos verdes, asunto que traté recientemente en esta curación de contenidos. 


En su artículo, Nathanael Johnson alude a los beneficios que pueden suponer estas granjas o huertos urbanos sobre los ciudadanos, tanto desde el punto de vista de acceso a unos productos de calidad como en relación con el beneficio económico que puede generar en los productores. En relación con esta fuente de ingresos, el autor pone como ejemplo la empresa Lula Farms, proyecto que se inicio en una azotea de Montreal y que actualmente proporciona beneficios estables (


Obviamente, son necesarias unas estructuras mínimas tales como una superficie lo suficientemente amplia y plana para que la inversión merezca la pena, siendo igualmente necesaria una estructura sólida que pueda soportar el peso sin problemas. No obstante, también pueden ser viables las conocidas como granjas verticales. 


En este vídeo podéis ver la granja de Montreal citada anteriormente (

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Earth Screening: the Winning proposal for Holland 'sustainable farming' pavilion at Expo Milano 2015

Earth Screening: the Winning proposal for Holland 'sustainable farming' pavilion at Expo Milano 2015 | green streets |

New Holland Agriculture have chosen the winner of the international competition for their 1,500 square meters pavilion at the World Expo 2015 in Milan. The proposal, by Carlo Ratti Associati, is called Earth Screening, and features an agricultural field on its roof, similar to a giant 3D printer thanks to the constant activity of two robotized, self-driving tractors.

Emanuela Recchi, chairman of Recchi Engineering, describes Earth Screening as “a pavilion capable of expressing the principles of sustainability, efficiency, and energy production of a modern ‘Sustainable Farm’.” The design concept proposes an innovative and efficient pavilion, allowing visitors to interact with the latest research, products and innovations developed by New Holland.

The aim is that the energy for the pavilion – including that for the selfdriving tractors on the roof – will be generated on site. After the Expo, the New Holland pavilion will be dismantled and reconstructed in a second location as an innovative didactic farm, embodying the very idea of recycling and sustainability.

Donovan Gillman's curator insight, December 9, 2013 2:58 AM

Is this the future or is it just another "futurescape" daydream?

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A Skyscraping, Vertical Farm Tower Concept

A Skyscraping, Vertical Farm Tower Concept | green streets |

Although China has the largest agricultural output in the world, supporting more than 20% of the world’s population, only 15% of its land can be cultivated, of which only 1.2% permanently supports crops. The total land area used for farming is also set to fall as more and more land is used for development, though Spanish architectural firm Javier Ponce Architects has come up with an innovative solution. 

Its design concept, titled ‘Dynamic Vertical Networks’, consists of 615-foot tall structures to be used as farms located in close proximity to urban areas like Hong Kong, in order to keep food distribution costs low. The structures will be made of lightweight, recycled metallic materials, in a shifting floorplate design inspired by “traditional shifting terrace concepts in Chinese rice farming”. Crops would be grown hydroponically, to create a soil-free environment. The plants will benefit from high levels of natural sunlight from the unobstructed, open design. 

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6 Examples of Urban Gardens, from Paris to Mexico City

6 Examples of Urban Gardens, from Paris to Mexico City | green streets |

In honor of the opening of a new garden in Paris, Reuters has pulled together a list of some of their favorite green spaces.

Here are a couple favorites...

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Urban Farming is Growing in Shanghai, China

Urban Farming is Growing in Shanghai, China | green streets |

After years of relentless growth, Shanghai, China is entering a new phase of environmentally sustainable development, where issues like urban farming are becoming more prominent. 

Increasing urban density, competition for land and a rising demand for food from the burgeoning middle class, Shanghai needs to ensure that the opportunity to produce food in the city is possible.

The main challenge facing urban farming in Shanghai remains to be a lack of awareness. Without the proper education and know-how, the urban farming movement is unlikely to take shape on a large scale, and with very little outdoor space available, few options are available to grow food. Many residents have turned to creative land-intensive solutions such as balcony or rooftop farming to produce fresh, organic, healthy and cheap foods...

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Feed Your City: How Architecture and Farming Work Together

Feed Your City: How Architecture and Farming Work Together | green streets |

It’s easy to argue that architecture plays a part in the world of food; most restaurants are uniquely designed to better the dining experience after all. However, the architect’s ties to the industry go much deeper, and designers are beginning to revolutionize the way we see & manage food production.

As these cities grow, it is important that we continue to find new and innovative ways to provide for the populace. Vertical farming and urban agriculture offer relief in metropolitan environments, helping to reduce the pressure of public food supply while also changing our traditional approach to food production.

See 11 great examples at the article link...

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The Impact of Urban Farming in New York

The Impact of Urban Farming in New York | green streets |

Urban farming is a sustainability movement that is giving new purpose to rooftops, patios and unused space. The beauty of urban farming is that it not only produces an abundance of organic, locally grown food, but also has a social, economic and communal impact.

Urban farming has the potential to become a global green evolution, improving the economy, sustainability and health of our urban communities. From North Minneapolis and Milwaukee to Cairo and Montreal, urban farms and gardens are sprouting up as a solution to maximize the use of natural resources such as solar energy, advocating healthy lifestyles and even teaching job skills. 

From rooftop-grown organic herbs to brownstone backyard tomato plants, urban farming is creating green utopias in otherwise unused or abandoned metropolitan spaces.

Read further for more information on urban farming as an agricultural revolution, aiding the change of global urban landscapes.

Katie Elizabeth's curator insight, August 8, 2013 1:20 PM

Cultural landscapes in our cities are changing.  What's your opinion?

Tanja Den Broeder's curator insight, January 21, 2015 7:54 PM

Always keep on looking at the greening Big Apple...

Kayla, Sean, and Max's curator insight, February 26, 2015 1:25 PM


Rooftop spaces in New York are starting to become used for urban farming and are resulting in many benefits. They maximize the use of space in the city, and help support healthy lifestyles within the city. They also provide another source of income for some of the many people that live in it, boosting the economy.

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Urban Farming on the Streets of Paris

Urban Farming on the Streets of Paris | green streets |
Designs for greenhouses that would fit between buildings and grow, among other things, bananas.

When most people think of urban farming, they see in their mind’s eye small plots recovered from the rubble of demolished buildings, tomatoes on fire escapes, and planters on rooftops. But urban farming could be a lot simpler, says French firm SOA Architects. They propose “Urbanana,” a large greenhouse-like structure that can fill the gaps between Haussmann-period buildings along Paris’s boulevards. This facility would grow bananas, and other edible plants unsuited to Paris’s climate, obviating the waste of transporting these products thousands of miles.

Here, then, is a truly local agricultural practice, one that can produce produce in quantities large enough to sustain whole cities. A bit more investment would be required for this type of venture than for the average urban farm, but the returns would be larger as well. This type of structure will also give urbanites the ability to cultivate their own specimens and varieties of ‘exotic’ plant, just as gentleman farmers have been doing for centuries in their private greenhouses (or green homes?)...

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Urban Agriculture Isn’t New

Urban Agriculture Isn’t New | green streets |

In fact, it’s been around since 3,500 BC when Mesopotamian farmers began setting aside plots in their growing cities.

In a review of urban agriculture throughout modern history at a symposium at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C., a diverse set of academics and designers ranging from historians to landscape architects discussed how the practice has evolved over the ages, often been highly ideological, and continues to be loaded with historical, cultural, and social meaning.


Organized by professor Dorothee Imbert, ASLA, chair of the master’s of landscape architecture program at Washington University, the conference looked at why urban agriculture is such a hot topic among the public and designers now but also hoped to put the current interest in a broader context.

As Imbert said, “the inter-relationship between food and the city has a long history.”

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Farm City - Huffington Post

Farm City - Huffington Post | green streets |

As the world's population expands and we expect to see 9 billion people on the planet by 2050 we are already thinking about the limitations and design of our spaces and our places. Already, 70 percent of fruits and vegetables grown in the United States are grown in urban edged areas with growing pressure for development. New York is also the home to 1.5 million food insecure residents people and many kids growing up in urban areas, sadly, believe that their food, literally, comes from the grocery store aisles. Instead, as volunteers and consumers flock to urban agricultural spaces there is an opportunity to learn more about food production. Community members become excited about their own role in transforming the communities in which they live, and a connection is formed between farmers and consumers, which also serves to deepen the connection between urban dwellers and the earth...

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The Local Food System

The Local Food System | green streets |

CITIES is re-interpreting urban farming as an asset for the city economy. This approach to the subject is neither revolutionary nor especially innovative, yet in the collation of an original set of parameters (community activity, urban landscapes and design applications) with existing approaches, new directions emerge...

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Arctic Harvester Proposes Large-Scale Hydroponic-Farming Near Greenland

Arctic Harvester Proposes Large-Scale Hydroponic-Farming Near Greenland | green streets |

Arctic Harvester was the first prize winning entry in the “Innovation and Architecture for the Sea” category of the Jacques Rougerie Foundation International Architecture Competition, 2013.  It proposes an itinerant soil-less agricultural infrastructure designed to drift the circulating ocean currents between Greenland and Canada, exploiting the nutrient-rich fresh water released by melting icebergs as the basis for a large-scale hydroponic-farming system. The floating facility is equipped to house a community of 800 people, inspired in its compact urban form by vertically oriented, bayside Greenlandic villages and their social, cultural and economic relationship to the sea.

More details at the link.

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Agricultural Printing and Altered Landscapes by Benedikt Groß

Agricultural Printing and Altered Landscapes by Benedikt Groß | green streets |

Agricultural printing to tackle monoculture by promoting diversity in biomass farming by Benedikt Groß.

The Royal College of Art Design graduate began by investigating how digital technology is transforming farming. "You could say in the last 50 years everything was about mechanisation to increase scale and efficiency, but the next thing in farming is digitalisation and precision farming, where everything is going to be mapped right down to the single plant," Benedikt Groß told Dezeen...

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Urban Agriculture Grows Up: Rooftop Greenhouses and Vertical Farms

Urban Agriculture Grows Up: Rooftop Greenhouses and Vertical Farms | green streets |

A wave of rooftop greenhouses and vertical farms captures the imagination of architects while offering an alternative to conventional cultivation methods.

Community-gardening advocates have sold urban farming as a sustainable local alternative to industrial-scale farming and as an educational platform for healthier living. And municipalities are buying in, adopting urban ag to transform vacant lots into productive civic assets.

In the last two or three years, however, entrepreneurial urban farmers have opened a new frontier with a different look and operating model than most community gardens. Their terrain is above the ground, not in it. Working with help from engineers, architects, and city halls, they have sown rooftops and the interiors of buildings worldwide. “There’s a lot of activity right now, and there is huge potential to do more of it,” says Gregory Kiss, principal at Brooklyn-based architecture firm Kiss + Cathcart.

Visit the article link for more on recent innovations in urban agriculture and vertical farming...

jean-guy Jais's curator insight, July 3, 2013 10:30 PM

very interesting

Zé Estrada Ar's comment, July 8, 2013 1:51 AM
Fortunately I live in a country filled with big farms, but it's a good iniciative.
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Data Farming: Demonstrating the Benefits of Urban Agriculture [INFOGRAPHIC]

Data Farming: Demonstrating the Benefits of Urban Agriculture [INFOGRAPHIC] | green streets |

Design Trust put together a metrics framework that measured the associated activities of urban agriculture with the known benefits derived from various studies to convince city officials of urban farming's positive impact.

Transforming underutilized land into productive urban farms was one of the many topics which were presented at the recent Kansas City Design Week.  Jerome Chou, past Director of Programs at the Design Trust for Public Space, presented his unique experience with the implementation of the Five Boroughs Farm in New York City and the impact that urban agriculture can have on low-income areas of a city.

Chou pointed out that having the land available for an urban farm is only half of the battle. The other half involves changing local zoning laws, influencing political opinion, garnering economic support, and proving the project will have a net benefit to a community...

Marcus Taylor's curator insight, August 4, 2013 3:40 AM

Urban Agriculture faces a myriad of challenges to enter the mainstream of urban development in the pursuit of "SmartCities" Worth a browse.

Daniel Moura's curator insight, January 23, 2015 4:22 AM
Many cities (like NYC) are leaving old prejudices behind and are converting green areas and unused land to urban agriculture. Improving food security and resilience, reduce city's ecological footprint, supporting pollinators, increasing biodiversity and building sense of community are just a few examples of the benefits it provides
Eric Larson's curator insight, February 13, 12:49 PM
Benefits of urban agriculture?
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6 New Year's Resolutions for Better City Life | Sustainable Cities Collective

6 New Year's Resolutions for Better City Life | Sustainable Cities Collective | green streets |

(by Cristiana StravaIt) 

It's the time of year again when we take stock of the old and pledge to be better in the new. Since our goal at Polis is to foster dialogue and cooperation for improving city life, I'm proposing a short list of New Year's resolutions to help us all live better urban lives...

Lauren Moss's insight:

An overview of practices and programs that enable a more sustainable and engaged approach to urban design and planning on the community scale.

Featured topics include:

1. Cycle and Recycle

2. Use Public Transport (More)

3. Get Involved in Your Community

4. Explore

5. Make a Map

6. Support Urban Agriculture and Community Gardens

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A Grand Idea To Revitalize A City, Using Living Art

A Grand Idea To Revitalize A City, Using Living Art | green streets |
David Lagé believes that East Buffalo needs a bit of TLC. The Brooklyn-based architect established Terrainsvagues as a type of think-tank for discussions around the plight of vacant plots that have popped up in cities grappling with their less-than-bustling, post-industrial realities.
For Art Farms, its first initiative, Lagé teamed up with co-curator Andrea Salvini to revitalize the upstate Rust Belt region from the earth up.

Lagé and Salvini believe that the element of engagement will deepen a connection between residents and new local cooperatives establishing community gardens at vacant lots. They enlisted five local artists to create free-standing sculptures for three established locales: Wilson Street Urban Farm, Cold Spring Farm, and Michigan Street Farm with a single stipulation: Their site-specific works must somehow, someway support agricultural activity...
Emilie Wacogne's curator insight, February 27, 2013 8:15 AM

La revitalisation de la "Rust Belt" américaine par l'Art...

Lorraine Chaffer's curator insight, June 1, 2013 7:53 AM

Improving the liveability of places can involve engaging the community - street art and unique installations can be effective in achieving this.

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Metropolitan Agriculture: One Size Doesn't Fit All

Metropolitan Agriculture: One Size Doesn't Fit All | green streets |
S, M, L, or XL-sized metropolitan agriculture? Mia Lehrer, FASLA, Mia Lehrer + Associates, said one size definitely doesn't fit all when it comes to cities, in a session at the ASLA 2012 Annual Meeting.

In an era where it seems like any school or community can start a garden, perhaps it’s time to step back and think about the bigger picture. What’s the goal? Lehrer thinks it’s comprehensive urban agricultural systems that are relevant to the unique cultural, social, and environmental conditions of a city. Metro-region agriculture, if planned, designed, and supported financially, can address issues related to social equity and health issues like diabetes and obesity, while building regional agricultural communities and economies.

The article discusses urban agriculture at varying scales, from the city to rural communities; this is because the footprint of any city really reaches far beyond the core — to the edges, to the suburban and rural communities and economies that make the whole metropolis work.

For more on this analysis of urban agriculture and how to best plan, develop and provide infrastructure for successful and sustainable revitaliztion projects that not only boost the local economy, but community health, read the complete article. Also included are links to resources, programs, and initiatives related to metropolitan agriculture.

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Renewable energy schemes help boost farmers' profits

Renewable energy schemes help boost farmers' profits | green streets |
Surge in use of wind and solar power is providing secondary income for agriculture sector, in addition to rural tourism...

More than a quarter of all farmers have not just green fields but "green" barns too, thanks to a surge in the use of solar panels and wind turbines.

Renewable energy is promising to overtake rural tourism as a secondary income for the agricultural sector, with 200 megawatts of power – enough for 40,000 households – installed, according to joint research by the National Farmers' Union (NFU) and NatWest bank.

They found that one in six farmers will have solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in place by the middle of this year and one in five will be producing clean electricity by this date. If this trend continues, as much as 15% of all UK electricity from renewable sources come from the land by the end of this decade, they believe...

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Urban agriculture: Growing food in our cities

Urban agriculture: Growing food in our cities | green streets |

City dwellers have been growing their food for millennia, but the concept of urban agriculture been formally recognized in research and public policy since the mid 90s. The International Development Research Centre played a leading role in forging this new discipline and raising awareness of it...

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Rooftop Farms

Rooftop Farms | green streets |
Brooklyn Grange, believed to be the world's largest rooftop farm, is expanding to the Brooklyn Navy Yard.


Brooklyn Grange Farm is Expanding to a 45K Square Foot Rooftop in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.  This is a stunning example of urban agriculture designed to produce local food, even with limited spatial resources.

Via Seth Dixon
Steve Westgate's comment, February 8, 2012 8:51 AM
Urban agriculture has been an excellent project to form community bonding in all the United States cities that participate. Production of the foods that are provided by urban agriculture could not feed the local population as a hole, but part of the harvests are usually donated to the local food banks for the needy. So many roof tops in our cities could be used for farming. Most of our abandoned properties could also be used for agriculture. My community has had and will have local growers, who will sell their produce rather cheap and give a portion to local shelters, food banks, and state run faculties.
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New Report: The Potential for Urban Agriculture

New Report: The Potential for Urban Agriculture | green streets |
Part of a bigger picture of urban greening, urban agriculture can have significant impact on food security in cities.
morgan knight's curator insight, November 5, 2014 5:24 PM

Urban agriculture seems to be a very beneficial  and "green" way to go in our world. It wouldn't take up much space, it would definitely help secure food for the community, and would give an overall better look to the US' urban areas. But only time will prove this right.