As people flock to urban centers where ground space is limited, cities with green walls and roofs
and skyscraper farms offer improved health and well-being, renewable resources, reliable food supply,
and relief to the environment.
-Dianne Ackerman (Poet, Naturalist)
Urban and peri-urban food production, distribution and consumption is rapidly becoming the next frontier of community sustainability and resiliency. Cities that do not build their inherent capacity for food production will miss the boat on economic development, social justice, resiliency and community well being.
-Wayne Roberts, PhD. (Author, Food Policy Analyst)
Three years have quickly passed since the ground-breaking Urban Agriculture Summit in Toronto. Since then, many new developments in design, business practice, policy and research supporting urban and peri-urban agriculture have mushroomed.
It is time to take stock and plan future directions in the critical area of food policy, which is all too often left out of high-level policy discussions about resilience. As more an people turn to growing food in cities -- as a hobby, for nourishment, or as a new breed of business -- there are a greater number of opportunities to learn from one another and to advance the sector.
Living green infrastructure as a whole, is rapidly become a multi-billion dollar industry in North America. Understanding the economics of living green infrastructure, and its ability to help communities become more resilient in the face of severe climate change is critically important to our future.
Some of the leading-edge issues and developments that will be discussed at Grey to Green in 2015 include the following:
- Designing for food and the bottom line – how designing buildings with food production in mind can reduce costs, generate improved rents, increase property value and improve employee efficiency.
- Resilience – how do we prepare our communities for extreme weather impacts by using green infrastructure approaches and best practice. How green infrastructure can improve social cohesion and stability.
- Technical advancements in indoor food production.
- Resilience and the role of urban and peri-urban agriculture in issues of short and long term food security.
- Community/participant design – how engaging end users transforms the design process and can result in numerous project cost savings.
- Exploring the edge of technological innovation - design integration for multiple benefits – the ecology of local food production – chickens, fish, CO2, vegetables, waste heat, bees and worms.
- Rethinking parks for resilience – increasingly parks are seen as serving multiple functions in urban areas, beyond traditional recreational spaces. Parks are becoming focal points for community cohesion, managing stormwater, protecting biodiversity, tourism, generating tax revenue, food and more.
- Employment opportunities - there are a wide range of opportunities associated with generating much needed employment through green infrastructure investment and development.
- Evolving voluntary standards – understand how green infrastructure is incorporated into LEED, Living Building Challenge and Sustainable Sites.
In 2015, we will be organizing a series of specialized training courses around the topic of agriculture, from bee keeping to Spin gardening. Watch also for the Green Infrastructure Design Charrette, an opportunity to roll up your sleeves and re-design a neighborhood in need of greening.
Call for papers for 2015's Grey to Green will be announced in early December.