Whether you convert your lawn to vegetables, plant food crops on your roof, buy only locally grown food, or walk to work, you might be an agriburbist. Agriburbia® is a concept that combines sustainable urban living with old-fashioned rural concepts such as growing your own food, improving lifestyle balance and culinary literacy, building and supporting a local food economy, reducing food miles and carbon emissions from food transport, and developing and using land sustainably. All of this means greater regional food security (American Society for Horticulture Science).
In Agriburbia®, we can have our modern conveniences and culture as well as the best parts of living in a rural environment. This means mixed-use developments that are environmentally sustainable, self-sufficient and food-producing. As water becomes more and more precious, our future may be that we surround our homes with the backyard farms needed to feed our families and communities instead of mere ornamental landscapes.
Matthew Redmond in Colorado (http://agriburbia.com/) is developing a 618-acre housing project with 944 homes, surrounded by 108 acres of backyard farms and 152 acres of community farms. This is just one of his many projects. According to Jason Blevins of the Denver Post, Redmond “envisions a future where the nation’s 31 million acres of lawn are converted to food production. He sees golf-course greens redefined with herbs…retirement homes engulfed by farms and office buildings where workers escape cubicles on farming breaks.”
The Agriburbia® concept takes edible landscaping to a whole new level and reduces our carbon footprint. These ideas may sound rather utopian, but make excellent economic sense as well. We might make some money on our small plots selling locally grown produce to restaurants, at farmers markets or to schools. While we grow the food we need near to where it will be used, we can conserve natural resources by using alternative sustainable energy and transportation systems, using water wisely and building according to green building concepts. Water quality can be protected.
No longer will land be agricultural or non-agricultural, developed or undeveloped. It’s too expensive to ship our food thousands of miles. We need more local options for fresh food. The industrial food system model may no longer be a sustainable food delivery method for high quality, nutritious food. New communities can be designed with agricultural landscapes blended into the development, and established communities can be retrofitted to this new model for a sustainable high quality of life.