Is agriculture the new golf? Former skeptic Andres Duany says it very well could be. I was fortunate enough to hear Duany speak on his book, "Garden Cities: Theory & Practice of Agrarian Urbanism." As usual, he didn't disappoint with his energetic and blunt character that never needs a flashy presentation or pretty pictures to keep your interest.
In "Garden Cities," rather than the term agricultural, which focuses on the technical aspects of growing food, Duany deliberately uses the term agrarian to emphasize the society involved and all aspects of food: organizing, growing, processing, distributing, cooking and eating it.
Don’t get confused! Duany starts off by establishing a vocabulary that distinguishes the ways food production and planning can be integrated. Agricultural retention is simply an array of techniques to save existing farmland, like in the Green Belt of the UK. Urban agriculture is cultivation within existing cities and suburbs (i.e.: the San Francisco Urban Agriculture). Agricultural urbanism are settlements equipped with working farms; Serenbe is a great example. And finally, agrarian urbanism are settlements with a society encompassing all the aspects of food.
As a Kansas girl and having a father that grew up on a farm, I know that agriculture isn't a glamorous job. Duany doesn't overlook this detail - in fact, it was a part of his initial skepticism for several years as he studied rural restaurants with the Seaside-Pienza Institute. Similar to the contract workers that maintain a high-end golf course community, Duany suggests a similar management for agrarian urbanism, with the typical fees and salaries directed to edible landscapes.
“This is not your grandmother’s village,” Duany isn't suggesting that we throw away our modern advances and go back to the hard life of the 1800s. But adapting the golf course model to an agrarian community might just give us the best of both worlds.
Can such a community become a successful model of urbanism? I don’t know, but I’d sure like to see someone try. Is there urban agriculture or agrarian urbanism in your city? Share your thoughts and your city's stories in the comments area below.
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