Around The Farm
By Yixuan Wang (Eve), UW Farm AST Intern, College of Built Environments, majoring in Landscape Architecture
How can landscape architects foster better urban farming communities?
As a landscape architecture student, I have a different perspective of the farm. Looking at farming through the lens of architecture and designing spaces, I see an opportunity for more farms to be integrated into urban spaces. As climate change continues to affect every aspect of our lives, we must think about alternative ways for sustainable food production. One way of achieving this is by growing produce in urban spaces, such as our Mercer Court farm site (photo below).
As I walk down the stairs to the clubhouse at Mercer Court, oftentimes I find myself noticing at structures that support the whole farm. Unlike our farm site at the Center for Urban Horticulture, our farm at Mercer is situated in a highly urban area, each plot surrounded by tall residential buildings and vertically spanning across two stories from one end to the other. The stairs between tiers of beds have been the biggest challenge experienced by the people who work here. Farm teams and volunteers frequently can be seen carrying heavy totes of produce and large equipment up and down the stairs. Wouldn’t it be a better design if there were not so many stairs and elevation change?
Above Photo: UW Farm Mercer Court growing site. Taken from aerial video by Skylar Lin YouTube
I selected some great examples of urban farms to showcase the successes and challenges of various urban food production spaces.
Comparison of Urban Farming Landscapes
Residential Scale: Mercer Island Urban Farm
Seattle Urban Farm Company
Client: Mercer Island resident
Photo credit: Seattle Urban Farm Company
This is a residential design project by Seattle Urban Farm Company. The new design shaped the landscape into a series of raised beds, connected by permeable pavings.
This example could be used for similar sites with topographic changes. Using salvaged woods and locally sources materials could make this kind of small scale project more achievable.
Rooftop Corporate Scale: Corporate Commons 3
Installation and production: Brooklyn Grange
Location: Staten Island, NY
photo credit: Brooklyn Grange
This urban farm location is on the rooftop of an office building in Staten Island, New York. this rooftop farm is the biggest rooftop garden in NYC, giving a green and vibrant view towards Manhattan and Fresh Kills Park.
Rooftop farms have been gaining popularity in the past few, especially during the pandemic. Urban rooftops account for a large portion of the overall shared spaces in cities, but using them as gardens requires a lot of consideration beforehand during the design and construction phase. Things like wheelbarrow circulation, irrigation systems, ventilation, and weight bearing capacity are all things that must be considered.