Thursday, November 27, 2008

Mixed Use Urbanization


I've been in cities that have gardens and parks and green zones and nature preserve areas. But until now, I don't think I'd ever been in a city with actual plowed fields.... Agricultural zones within the city limits. Does this even happen in America? Would Americans have a different relationship to land and the origins of consumables if it did? I suspect the answer to both questions is probably no.

However, none of that is why I took the picture. I was struck by the contrast... the bus stop in an industrial area, behind a cemetary. Everything was still and quiet in this direction, behind me, tank trucks were filling up with diesel at some kind of depot next to the railyard. The field had been plowed just this morning, apparently, steam was rising from the freshly gouged furrows.


Rufus said...

Cities with farmed fields are relatively rare- actually, one definition for a city is a place that cannot feed itself. I'd like to see more cities with fields, but it's perhaps a question of convincing whoever holds the real estate that it's a worthwhile project.

Brian Dunbar said...

This summer a bit of plowed land - maybe a half-acre - showed up on land the city owns behind the police station.

Which is, I guess, an okay use of land not otherwise used - the only other use I know of for that five acre parcel is a place for the city to dump the snow they remove from the streets.

it's perhaps a question of convincing whoever holds the real estate that it's a worthwhile project.

Money makes the world go round. If I own five acres and it's a choice of leasing it to a farmer for X dollars, or selling it outright to a developer for industrial or housing for X*500 dollars - why shouldn't I sell?

Although .... if we've got depopulated cities and entire blocks going fallow tearing up the housing and turning it into farmland would be interesting.

rufus said...

That's the thing- around here there are entire blocks that you could hardly give away. Landlords hold on to them in the hopes that someday someone will want these old boarded up buildings. In most cases, they've been like that for decades. They're now used primarily by drug users, rats, and squatters.

Money might well be the answer to this actually. I've long said that the environmentalists, instead of spending a fortune on ad campaigns and so forth, should be pooling their money to buy up old real estate that otherwise is rotting and waiting for brighter tomorrows at a much better price than the owners will get from anyone else. Out here, it would make perfect sense. Nobody cares about their ads and we have huge lots with condemned buildings and nothing else on them. Why not make it into 'Greenpeace Park', or heck even 'Greenpeace Farms' and turn a profit?

Interestingly enough, I drive past a lot of vacant lots when I'm headed from Ontario through upstate New York. I just discovered a few days ago that one of those vacant lots that I've gone past a dozen times is Love Canal.