Duany on Agrarian Urbanism

When discussing the topic of urban farming nowaday, one cannot help but take heart from the adoption of the subject by the Duany, Plater-Zyberk Company.  Whether you agree with the New Urbanist’s brand or not hopefully you can appreciate what they want and have accomplished in their mission to combat urbanity without urbanism.  Duany is definitely trying to “reach across the aisle” as it were to acknowledge some of the positives presented by Waldheim’s crowd.  If you want to see Duany’s talk on the subject read this post to the bottom and spend some time watching his video.  It’s long I know but interesting.  And we have fast forwarding.

The following is excerpted from Jason Kings’ Landscape + Urbanism blog at landscapeandurbanism.blogspot.com:

As mentioned on Planetizen, this is to become an emphasis:

“At the 18th Annual Congress for New Urbanists, Andres Duany announced ‘Agrarian Urbanism’ as his new planning emphasis. He believes that the success of New Urbanism has stultified its progress and reduced its potential…  Agrarian urbanism is a society involved with the growing of food,” explains Duany. He now aims to create a locavorous community where the resident is responsible for designing his “own utopia.” Greg Lindsay believes the ideas could be attractive to the Whole Foods demographic but is unsure if they are ready for the hard work involved with growing food. Duany concedes that his agrarian communities would still “end up hiring Hispanic laborers to do the dirty work,” but that these laborers would have a closer relationship with their employers.”

For some of Duany’s view on this topic (echoing the above quote) you can turn to Fast Company,  New Urbanism for the Apocalypse, a snapshot of the CNU annoucement, particularly how this viewpoint fits into the NU paradigm.  From the article:

“Agrarian urbanism, he explained, is different from both “urban agriculture” (“cities that are retrofitted to grow food”) and “agricultural urbanism” (“when an intentional community is built that is associated with a farm).” He was thinking bigger: “Agrarian urbanism is a society involved with the growing of food.” America abounds with intentional communities, he pointed out — golf course communities, equestrian ones, even the fly-in kind. So why not build one for locavores? And they can have as much land as they like — it’s just that they would have gardens instead of yards, or community gardens and window boxes if they choose to live in an apartment. Their commitment to “hand-tended agriculture” would be part of their legally binding agreement with the homeowners’ association. “You design your own utopia,” he said. Instead of a strip mall in the town square, there’s a “market square” comprised of green markets, restaurants, cooking schools, an agricultural university, and so on. “This thing pushes buttons like mad,” he said. “The excitement this triggers — they get as excited about this as they did in the old days about the porch and the walkable community.”

:: Agricultural Transect – image via Fast Company

I particularly enjoy the idea of writing this into the CC+R’s of a community (above underlined passage) a sort of ‘thou shall farm’ edict that allows you to design your own utopia, as long as it fits within certain cultural and community expectations as defined and dictated those in power.  Is this the small-scale version of hobby-farming to the suburban masses – because it isn’t really a model of truly ‘urban’ development?


Another, from Houston Tomorrow, sums up a recent presentation on ‘Agricultural Urbanism: Transects & Food Production‘ with a focus on the recent NU-inspired Southlands project in BC .  Picking up the thread of CNU18, Kunstler shows he may be on board, quoted  on Clusterf*&k Nation echoing the need for this return to the farm as also a response to impeding climate change related disruption. (underlined quote mine)

“Among other things, the most forward-looking leaders in the New Urbanist movement now recognize that we have to reorganize the landscape for local food production, because industrial agriculture will be one of the prime victims of our oil predicament. The successful places in the future will be places that have a meaningful relationship with growing food close to home. The crisis in agriculture is looming right now — with world grain reserves at their lowest level ever recorded in modern times — and when it really does hit, the harvestmen of famine and death will be in the front ranks of it.”

The Houston article links to the long presentation by Duany about the topic, via YouTube – although I haven’t had a spare two hours to check it out yet… anyone will to summarize, let me know.

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