Participatory Landscaping: The future of food?
The growth of participatory media has revealed the need for news consumers to participate in the news. Tomorrow's challenges will extend beyond media and back into the very traditional business of food production. But the old methods of industrial farming have not delivered the yields that were projected so we need to radically re-think how we get our food. I would wager that urban food will be part of that solution and that crowdsourcing the landscape will be the next democratic wave. Here is an excerpt from a paper that addresses that very issue:
Urban agriculture has the potential to provide many mutually enhancing benefits - not just for the goals of urban sustainability, but for public health and community development as well. Yet the adoption of urban agricultural techniques in Greenwich Village is hindered by significant social pressures to maximize the economic value of public space and preserve existing functions. With further evaluation, techniques such as edible landscaping and distributed gardening may prove to be viable footholds for introducing urban agricultural techniques into this dynamic cultural ecosystem.
Yet even if successful, these techniques would exist at the margins of a landscape that is fundamentally heterotrophic and inequitable. In the long term, developing a more ecologically and socially robust built environment will require reconceptualizing the way public space is managed, and producing more than a token amount of food within city limts. New models are needed that combine the financial resources and design expertise of centralized planning offices with the community agency of participatory landscapes. Meanwhile, the development of a sustainable food system entails much more than merely growing it (Barrs, DeLind); further research is needed into techniques for processing and distributing the yield of urban agricultural projects in ways that are ecologically restorative and socially just.