6 x 9
18 photos, 1 illustration
6 x 9
18 photos, 1 illustration
Public Produce makes a uniquely contemporary case not for central government intervention, but for local government involvement in shaping food policy. In what Darrin Nordahl calls “municipal agriculture,” elected officials, municipal planners, local policymakers, and public space designers are turning to the abundance of land under public control (parks, plazas, streets, city squares, parking lots, as well as the grounds around libraries, schools, government offices, and even jails) to grow food.
Public agencies at one time were at best indifferent about, or at worst dismissive of, food production in the city. Today, public officials recognize that food insecurity is affecting everyone, not just the inner-city poor, and that policies seeking to restructure the production and distribution of food to the tens of millions of people living in cities have immediate benefits to community-wide health and prosperity.
This book profiles urban food growing efforts, illustrating that there is both a need and a desire to supplement our existing food production methods outside the city with opportunities inside the city. Each of these efforts works in concert to make fresh produce more available to the public. But each does more too: reinforcing a sense of place and building community; nourishing the needy and providing economic assistance to entrepreneurs; promoting food literacy and good health; and allowing for “serendipitous sustenance.” There is much to be gained, Nordahl writes, in adding a bit of agrarianism into our urbanism.
"Public Produce is a wonderful primer for students, planners, designers, and activists for food security and urban produce. Nordahl's personal and down-to-earth style will educate and inspire the average citizen interested in food policy or urban design, and his expertise in urban issues will give clarity to professional planners and designers on this complex subject."
Landscape Architecture Magazine
"Darrin Nordahl, director of Iowa's Davenport Design Center, has written a paean to urban agriculture in Public Produce: The New Urban Agriculture. Nordahl is an advocate of 'fresh produce grown on public land, and thus available to all members of the public-for gathering or gleaning, for purchase or trade.' Nordahl deals effectively with issues such as food literacy, maintenance, and aesthetics."
"This vital book shows how growing food on public land can transform our civic landscape, sprouting the seeds of biodiversity, sustainability, and community."
Alice Waters, Chez Panisse
"A thought-provoking work about the food-producing potential of urban public space, and a worthwhile read for everyone who does food policy work."
Benjamin Thomases, Food Policy Coordinator, City of New York
"Nordahl is a visionary who shows how easily cities could promote urban agriculture to the great benefit of all concerned. This book is at the cutting edge of today's food revolution. Read it and get your city council to sign up!"
Marion Nestle, Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at NYU; author of "What to Eat"
"What Darrin Nordahl envisions in this lively book is nothing short of a revolutionary way of seeing cities, a kind of 'edible urbanism.' This is a book that will likely shape the urban agenda for years to come."
Timothy Beatley, Teresa Heinz Professor of Sustainable Communities, University of Virginia
Chapter 1. Food Security
Chapter 2. Public Space, Public Officials, Public Policy
Chapter 3. To Glean and Forage in the City
Chapter 4. Maintenance and Aesthetics
Chapter 5. Food Literacy
Conclusion: Community Health and Prosperity
With the end of COP 21 and the signing of the historic Paris Agreement, it’s not just countries that are thinking about how to reduce emissions—individuals are reflecting on how their habits and actions impact climate change as well.
Island Press authors shared what they’re doing to reduce their carbon footprints and, in some cases, what more they could be doing. Check out their answers and share your own carbon cutbacks—or vices—in the comments.
Jason Mark, author of Satellites in the High Country:
Very much like the Paris Climate Accord itself, ecological sustainability is a process, not a destination. Which, I'll admit, is a squirrely way of saying that I'm doing my best to reduce my carbon footprint. I ride my bike. I take mass transit. Most days my car never leaves the spot in front of our home. Most importantly, I have sworn off beef because of cattle production's disproportionate climate impact. The (grass-fed, humane) burger still has a siren song, but I ignore it.
Grady Gammage, author of The Future of the Suburban City:
I drive a hybrid, ride light rail to the airport and don’t bother to turn on the heat in my house (which is possible in Phoenix). My greatest carbon sin is my wood burning fireplace. I don’t use it when there’s a “no burn” day, but otherwise, I have a kind of primordial attraction to building a fire.
John Cleveland, co-author of Connecting to Change the World:
We just installed a 12 KW solar array on our home in New Hampshire. At the same time, we electrified our heating system with Mitsubishi heat pumps. So our home is now net positive from both an electricity and heating point of view. We made the solar array large enough to also power an electric car, but are waiting for the new models that will have more range before we install the electric car charger. The array and heat pumps have great economics. The payback period is 8-years and after that we get free heat and electricity for the remainder of the system life — probably another 20+ years. Great idea for retirement budgets!
Dan Fagin, author of Toms River:
Besides voting for climate-conscious candidates, the most important thing we can do as individuals is fly less, so I try to take the train where possible. I wish it were a better option.
Darrin Nordahl, author of Public Produce:
The United States is the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases behind China, and how we produce food in this country is responsible for much of those emissions. From agriculture, to the fossil fuels needed to produce bags and boxes for pre-packaged food, to the burning of gas and oil to transport both fresh produce and pre-packaged food, I have discovered I can reduce my carbon footprint with a simple change in my diet. For one, I avoid processed food of any sort. I also grow a good portion of my vegetables and herbs and, thankfully, local parks with publicly accessible fruit trees provide a modicum of fresh fruit for my family. We also eat less meat than we used to and our bodies (and our planet) are healthier because of it.
Yoram Bauman, author of The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change:
I try to put on warm slippers or other extra layers around the house in order to not have to heat the house so much, but I still like to take long hot showers. (Maybe those two things are connected).
Rob McDonald, author of Conservation for Cities:
I try to pay attention to my daily habits that make up a lot of my carbon footprint. So I bike to work, or take mass transit. That gets rid of the carbon footprint of driving. I also try to only moderately heat or cool my home, so I’m not burning a lot of energy doing that. The biggest component of my carbon footprint that I haven’t managed to cut is for travel. I have to travel once or twice a month for my job, and unless it is a trip in the Northeast (when I can just use Amtrak!), I am stuck travelling. The carbon footprint of all that air travel is huge. I try to do virtual meetings, rather than travel whenever I can, but there still seems to be a big premium people place on meeting folks face to face.
Emily Monosson, author of Unnatural Selection:
We keep our heat really low in the winter (ask our teenage daughter, it's way too cold for her here!) and I hang my clothes on the line in the summer. Because it’s so cold, I love taking really hot long showers. I should also hang my clothes in the winter too, and ditch the dryer.
Jonathan Barnett and Larry Beasley, co-authors of Ecodesign for Cities and Suburbs:
We both live in a town-house in the central part of a city – on opposite sides of the continent: one in Philadelphia the other in Vancouver. Our neighborhoods have 100% walk scores. We each own one car, but don’t need to drive it very much - most of the time we can go where they need to on foot. We wrote our book using email and Dropbox. What they still need to work on is using less air travel in the future.
Jan Gehl, author of Cities for People:
I live in Denmark where 33% of the energy is delivered by windmills. A gradual increase will happen in the coming years. As in most other countries in the developed world, too much meat is on the daily diet. That is absolutely not favorable for the carbon footprint. It sounds like more salad is called for in the future!
Suzanne Shaw, co-author of Cooler Smarter:
Cooler Smarter: Practical Steps for Low Carbon Living provides a roadmap for consumers to cut their carbon footprint 20 percent (or more). My approach to lowering my carbon footprint has gone hand in hand with saving money through sensible upgrades. Soon after I purchase my 125-year-old house I added insulation, weather stripping and a programmable thermostat. When I needed a new furnace, I swapped a dirty oil furnace to a cleaner, high-efficiency natural gas model. And now have LED bulbs in every fixture in the house, Energy Star appliances throughout, and power strips at my entertainment and computer areas. This summer, I finally installed solar panels through a 25-year lease (zero out-of-pocket expense). In the month of September, I had zero emissions from electricity use. Living in the city, I am fortunate to have access to public transportation and biking, which keeps our household driving to a minimum.
Peter Fox-Penner, author of Smart Power Anniversary Edition:
I’m reducing my footprint by trying to eat vegan, taking Metro rather than taxis or Ubers, and avoiding excess packaging. Right now I travel too much, especially by air. P.S. Later this year I’ll publish my carbon footprint on the website of the new Boston University Institute for Sustainable Energy. Watch for it!
Carlton Reid, author of Roads Were Not Built for Cars:
Our family has a (small) car but I cycle pretty much all of the time. My kids cycle to school (some days) and my wife cycles to work (sometimes). It’s useful to have the car for some journeys, long ones mostly, but having a family fleet of bikes means we don’t need a second car. Reducing one’s carbon footprint can be doing less of something not necessarily giving up something completely. If everybody reduced their car mileage (and increased their active travel mileage) that would be good for the planet and personally: win/win.
Katharine is the Publicity & Marketing Associate at Island Press.
For food lovers and supporters of sustainable agriculture, you can't beat Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This oft-overlooked Midwesten gem is memorable for more than just its cheese—it also boasts 177 community gardens, 30 farms, and 26 farmers' markets (more per capita than any other American city!) In the last decade, a half-dozen "farm-to-table" restaurants have sprung up in the city, creating a vibrant food culture that is constantly reinventing itself with fresh, nutritious, locally grown food. Milwaukee is also home to The Miller Brewing Company and has a craft beer scene that is second to none.
Many residents have developed a green thumb thanks to the city's active cooperative extension system and city laws that allow gardeners to sell their produce at farm stands and markets and keep chickens and bees in their yards. Others in Milwaukee have been championing gardening and community agriculture for decades, following traditions passed down through the generations. Still others have turned to gardening and urban agriculture more recently, as a way to recover from the Great Recession and heal divisions that have riven Milwaukee—and our nation as a whole.
Enter our Farm & Food sweepstakes and check out an excerpt from the revised edition of Public Produce by Darrin Nordahl. Public Produce profiles the many communities and community officials that are rethinking the role of public space in cities, and shows how places as diverse as parking lots and playgrounds can sustain health and happiness through fresh produce.
Katharine is the Publicity & Marketing Associate at Island Press.