It has been more than three months since I enrolled the MA Urban Design in Newcastle University. My understanding of the this major has been enhanced gradually through various academic courses and theoretical courses, what’s more, several study trips also gave me profound impression. In November 17th of 2015, Daniel took us to visit a town named Todmorden, this on-the-spot investigation also made me have a deeper understanding of urban agriculture. In this blog, I will briefly introduce the basic situation of Todmorden initially. Then, I will talk about the social significance of urban agriculture and Landscape design, and provide some relatively successful cases. Finally, I will discuss the operation strategy of urban agricultural landscape in current era.
Todmorden is a market town and civil parish in the Upper Calder Valley in Calderdale, West Yorkshire, England.There are many green sites (picture1, 2) which mostly belong the ’green route’, an official visiting route (picture3). Incredible Edible Todmorden has been running since 2007. Over the years, many campaigns and initiatives have been undertaken. Not all of them have been sustainable but all were great attempts to change our culture and understanding of growing and consuming food. In addition, these green sites are run by a local organization called ’Incredible Edible Todmorden Community Team’. And it is worth mentioning that they are all unpaid volunteers. They passionate people working together for a world where all share responsibility for the future well-being of our planet and ourselves.they grow fruit, herbs and vegetables around Todmorden that are for everyone to share. They also run a wide range of events that help strengthen the local community.
Picture 1: Green sites in Todmorden (from the Incredible Edible Todmorden official Site)
Picture 2: Some beds, restaurants and retails
Picture 3: Official visiting route (from the Incredible Edible Todmorden official Site)
The power of food & Plural value
In fact, agricultural thought is a part of human culture. Since ancient times, people have been engaged in agricultural activities in urban areas. Today’s urban agriculture is a complex system, it is not only a traditional activity, which is involving the production, processing, sales, distribution and consumption, but also involved many other widely recognized social benefits and services diversity. Mia Lehrer and Maya Dunne in the Urban Agriculture: Practices to Improve Cities pointed out that the urban agriculture has many benefits to community life — To reduce the pollution and global warming through the green space intervention to improve the urban environment quality; to establish a fair social order by providing local fresh food resources to low-income communities; aiming at the improvement of health and welfare, integrating the interdisciplinary approach to look to the long-term, systematic means to urban problems.
Learning from nature
The core of Vancouver Park Board Food Action Plan is to integrate the local food into the system of park recreation. Like a local landscape design firm called HB Lanarc in Vancouver, which is focus on the design strategy of ‘ecological elasticity approach’ and ‘tomorrow’s prosperous community’, and hold a standpoint that “The elastic food system and urban agriculture is the essence of sustainable community planning. They endow design projects with a great quality of life value”. British scholar Andre Viljoen proposed a concept called Continuous Productive Urban Landscape in 2005, which promotes the introduction of productive agricultural landscape in the city through a continuous way. And its core idea is to create an urban space network which is multi-function and open.
Agricultural landscape, marching on the city!
The strategy of agricultural urban landscape planning needs to focus on understanding and solving the problems around urban agriculture planning, design and implementation. On the aspect of landscape design extension and development in urban agriculture, we can reference the solution of ‘compact city’ in Continuous Productive Urban Landscapes：Designing Urban Agriculture for Sustainable Cities. It said that urban agriculture as a part of urban green infrastructure, is potentially shaping our urban life quality in future. By growing food in city rather than in rural environment only, urban agriculture will greatly reduce the dependence of industrialized production, packaging, transportation, and food will meet the needs of urban consumers directly.
As for the agricultural landscape media of urban ecological integration, the planning and design methods should be discussed in three aspects of landscape ecology, landscape planning and landscape design. The project operation of modern urban planning and landscape design must respond to the model construction of urban agriculture — ‘Agronica’. Because it is consistent with the current category of sustainable urban design and closely linked with the construction of urban sustainable development policy. Its definition covers logical explanation which is crossing culture and regional, and a product of ‘weak urbanization’ which is a complex intertexture in the process of human and natural.
Briefly, in the process of urban planning and landscape design, we need urban agriculture to integrate the problem of agricultural land use between urban and landscape design, to improve the quality of our food and to reduce the ravine between urban residents and agriculture.
’Census 2001 — Todmorden CP (Parish)’. Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 12 September 2007.
Incredible Edible – Official Site, http://incredible-edible-todmorden.co.uk/
Mia Lehrer, Maya Dunne. Urban Agriculture: Practices to Improve Cities[J]. Urban Land, January 18, 2011
HB LANARC PLANNING DESIGN SUSTAINABILITY. Sustainable Food Systems and Agricultural Urbanism[EB/OL].
Andre Viljoen, Joe Howe. Continuous Productive Urban Landscapes: Designing Urban Agriculture for Sustainable Cities[M]. London: Routledge, 2005.
Charles Waldheim. The Landscape Urbanism Reader, 2010 P.133, 134
The Promotion Video of Todmorden: