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A Book that aims to bring the farm to the city

Carrot City: Creating places for Urban Agriculture by Mark Gorgolewski, June Komisar and Joe Nasr. Book Cover.

Carrot City

Creating Places for Urban Agriculture

By Mark Gorgolewski, June Komisar and Joe Nasr.

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The Monacelli Press

240 pages

$60

How can we make cities into better places for growing food?

That's the central question of Carrot City, and the authors present some very creative strategies for bringing agriculture back to urban settings.

Mark Gorgolewski and June Komisar are architects who also teach at Toronto's Ryerson University. Joe Nasr is a lecturer on urban food security and author of Urban Agriculture: Food, Jobs and Sustainable Cities.

While activists and grass-roots food movements currently command a lot of attention, the authors point out that architects and academics – LeCorbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright among them – have spent years pondering the potential of urban agriculture.

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Carrot City is a learned book, which offers readers a mix of seemingly utopian visions and real-life case studies. It includes work by professionals in architecture, industrial design, sculpture, landscape architecture and urban planning.

Planning at the neighbourhood scale can facilitate the introduction of agriculture into high-density, high-rise urban areas, the authors argue.

Because the book had its genesis at Ryerson's Department of Architectural Science, Toronto is well represented here. But there are also projects from Vancouver, Montreal, New York and Chicago. There are lessons to be learned in The Netherlands, Britain and China.

One case study takes readers inside a community greenhouse in Inuvik and discusses not only the food production, but how it creates social bonds.

In the fascinating Ravine City concept, designers Chris Hardwicke and Hai Ho envision a plan that connects food-producing gardens to Toronto's ravines and rivers. The plan proposes to restore some of the natural ravines that have been destroyed or subsumed over the years.

Toronto projects include the Artscape Wychwood Barns, Evergreen Brick Works and the Carrot Green Roof garden at Carrot Common.

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One of the most interesting case studies documents artist Fritz Haeg's series of gardens that replace "water-hungry, pesticide-dependent" lawns with an edible landscape.

"The gardens are purposely located in places calculated to serve as a vivid contrast to their surroundings – surprise and shock are anticipated reactions and are intended to generate interest and curiosity about the transformations."

In Manhattan, the Vinegar Factory has a greenhouse on the rooftop for growing the greens, berries and figs that are sold in the marketplace below.

Gorgolewski, Komisar and Nasr say many of the architectural students they have encountered in recent years have grown up thinking about the environment and sustainability.

Gardeners, local food advocates, planners, architects and other readers of Carrot City are sure to find inspiration for even more creative ideas.

The book leaves little doubt that the locavore movement is much more than just a short-lived foodie trend.

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