From “green roof” to Community Garden, urban agriculture has been experiencing a boom.
By Miriam King
March 8, 2017
Over the past 7 years, “urban agriculture has really infiltrated our culture,” says Lorraine Johnson, author and editor of Ground: Landscape Architect Quarterly.
It’s nothing new: during World War II, homeowners in cities were encouraged to transform lawns and flowerbeds into “Victory Gardens,” augmenting the food supply.
The growing interest today comes from a greater interest in fresh, local food, issues of food security, and changing esthetics. “People are looking for an alternative to monoculture, looking after lawns. They are looking at the connection between food and the environment,” says Johnson. “What could be more local than growing it in your backyard?”
But the city farmer is still dealing with a fundamental dichotomy, between how the rural environment is perceived, and people’s views on urban environments. ‘Rural’ is seen as natural, healthy, and clean; ‘Urban” is seen as polluted and contaminated – even though it’s easier to control pesticide use in cities, than on imported produce. “There’s still this idea that food doesn’t belong in the city,” Johnson says – and especially, that food “doesn’t belong in the front yard. There’s a real kind of visceral response to food in the front yard, negatively.”