Multifunctional Landscape Analysis and Design

Urban Agriculture

Over the past decade, interest in urban agriculture has grown dramatically.  Diverse actors promote it as a way to build more resilient communities and to address specific urban issues such as food insecurity, a lack of food access, economic disinvestment, and public health problems such as high rates of obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease.  Community gardens, and to a lesser extent urban farms, have been the focus of much of the policy work and academic research related to urban agriculture.  We take a broader approach to exploring the social and ecological dynamics of urban food production at multiple scales, from backyard gardens, to squatter gardens on vacant land, to aquaponic systems on industrial rooftops. Recent work has focused on mapping and analyzing the spatial distribution of food production sites in Chicago using Google Earth and GIS, and on investigating the social and ecological processes associated with the residential and vacant lot food gardens of ethnic or immigrant households in the city. Project leads: John R. Taylor and Sarah Taylor Lovell.  Photo credits: John R. Taylor.  This project is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Hatch Project ILLU-802-383.

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Presentation slides on "Designing Urban Agriculture" from 2014 Ecological Society of America meeting.

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Large multiplot vacant lot gardens on the Far South Side of Chicago.

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Single plot vacant lot gardens on the West Side (left) and South Side (right).

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Backyard gardens on the South Side (left) and in Chinatown (right).

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Trellis structures in backyard gardens in Chinatown to support winter melon (center top) and bitter melon (center bottom and right) with amaranth ground layer.

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Front yard garden in a predominantly Mexican neighborhood on the South Side, with tropical corn, cucumbers, and peppers.

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