Cranberries and the City— In Spring (left), the cranberry bog is an imprinted plane of vegetation, while in Fall (right) the plane is flooded red and harvested amidst daily urban practices.
From agriculture, urban development to the tossed salad landscape.
What incentives can we offer developers to build viable and place-specific agricultural land in exchange for bonus density?
Apple Lot: Spaces of transition, like parking lots, can support food production and shade vehicles. The regularity of orchard planting complements the orderlieness of parked cars.
Pumpkins vs. Mow-n-blow: Do we want to pay to irrigate and mow lawns in parks and other public amenity spaces or use that money and space to grow food?

Tossed Salad

The Thin Green Line that defines the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) is a boundary that frames our attempts to mitigate growth, preserve arable land and maintain an agrarian landscape character in municipalities undergoing a massive transformation from rural to urban form. The ALR boundary establishes a wonderful edge in many places – a stark contrast between land uses, reinforced by the ‘boundary’ landscape, a place to observe from the safety of the edge.

In other areas however, the boundary is pockmarked by odd and incongruous land uses: big-box religion, surrounded by acres of occasionally used parking, is acceptable in the ALR; the placeless fake landscapes of golf courses – one of the worst offenders of chemical pollution – are permitted. Monster homes, often built cheaply and without any vernacular context, effectively suburbanize the ALR. There is a great irony in the acceptability of land use types that contradict the intentions of the policy, erode the viability of the agricultural resource and ultimately make the Thin Green Line meaningless.

Rather than making a futile attempt to reinforce this boundary, our proposal is to find opportunities to integrate seemingly incompatible agricultural uses on the other side of the line, to seek out the lost space in suburban sprawl that pushes up against the ALR, and propose a reciprocal response to the interlopers in the agrarian landscape. We propose to study the boundary as it exists in Richmond where the latent opportunities to interlope into lost space are abundant, and where the opportunity to demonstrate possible compatibilities (in a place where agrarian traditions meet the new phenomenon of Asian cuisine) and a new landscape vernacular is most potent. Our hopes are that the edge of the ALR becomes a transect, not a boundary, and begins to influence the built form and character of urban development deeper within the urban areas of our cities.


Design objectives

-generate economically-viable, agricultural operations within the urban form
-foster a sense of place and cultural identity rooted in an everyday agricultural landscape
-provide space for phytoremediation in areas contiguous to food growing operations



-what incentives can we offer developers to build viable and place-specific agricultural land in exchange for bonus density?
-how do we redesign streets, boulevards or linear parks to be emblematic of the everyday, edible, urban landscape?
-why shouldn’t the public realm be considered an economic asset rather than a maintenance cost?

This entry was posted on March 20, 2012 at 8:09 pm, filed under 04 Propose, Designer, Hapa Collaborative, Involvement, Project process. Bookmark the permalink. Comments are closed, but you can leave a trackback: Trackback URL.