Text by Deane Madsen
Conventional city planning does little to favor urban agriculture, but a 2013 study by the University of Arkansas Community Design Center (UACDC) titled “Fayetteville 2030: Food City Scenario” aims to change that. Fayetteville is Arkansas’ third-largest city, and although it expects sustained growth over the next 15 years, it already faces child hunger rates that are nearly double the national average. The study proposes that by integrating agricultural production into the city’s fabric as it expands, Fayetteville could reduce that hunger rate while encouraging backyard gardens to expand into a local food ecology.
Focusing on a scale somewhere between a windowbox garden and a vast Midwestern wheat field, “Food City Scenario” proposes that zoning for midsize food-production facilities be factored into Fayetteville’s current City Plan 2030 strategy. By encouraging Development-Supported Agriculture (DSA) and Gardened Right-of-Way streets, which feature fruit and nut trees planted in front yards and along sidewalks, sites for urban harvesting would become as ubiquitous as traffic infrastructure and would provide easier access to food for the populace.
UACDC recognizes the need for funding to support its concepts and proposes a toolkit of 22 urban interventions that could stimulate both agricultural and financial production, including DSA and restaurant farms—where the farm-to-table eatery concept exists on a single lot. Instead of relying on grocery store produce, residents could forage in landscaped woodlands and would formulate what the study calls “growing guilds” to manage them. These and other strategies in “Food City Scenario” are scalable and potentially replicable in other cities, but would start at home by enabling Fayetteville to plan a more resource-efficient community.
This article appeared in the May 2016 issue of ARCHITECT magazine.
Project: Fayetteville 2030: Food City Scenario, Fayetteville, Ark.
Client: City of Fayetteville—Matthew Petty (alderman and community organizer)
Architect: University of Arkansas Community Design Center (UACDC), Fayetteville, Ark. . Stephen Luoni, Assoc. aIA (director); Jeffrey Huber, AIA (assistant director); Cory Amos, Meredith Hendricks, David Jimenez, Allison Lee Thurmond Quinlan, AIA, Matt S. Hoffman, Assoc. AIA, Tanzil Idmam Shafique, Assoc. AIA (project designers); Linda Komlos (administrative analyst)
UACDC Students: Jonathan Elmore, Jacob Larison, Kimberly Murray, Ryne Pruitt, Richard Adam Stowe, Patrick Templelton, Leniqueca Welcome, Geronimo Debeza-Rodriquez , Jacob Drew Short, Timothy Patterson, Rachel Raben, Sarah Evans Jones, Paul Mosley
University of Arkansas Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering (BAEG) and Office for Sustainability: Marty Matlock (executive director)
BAEG Students: Nick Stoddart, Ben Putman, Lori Silva, Aaron Thomason, Barb Lombardi, John Beyers, Katie Whitbeck, Paige Heller, Jaime Gile, Nick Lombardo, Mike Crouse
University of Arkansas Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences: Ruben Morawicki
University of Arkansas School of Law and Masters of Law Program in Agricultural and Food Law: Susan Schneider
Size: 35,000 acres
2014 ARCHITECT Magazine P/A Awards: Honorable Mention
Fayetteville, Ark., faces conflicting food fortunes. On one hand, the state is impressively productive (second in chicken production, third in turkey and catfish, and home to food giants Tyson Foods and Walmart). “Fayetteville is in one of the state’s most prosperous regions,” juror Sasa Radulovic said, “but it also has the highest rate of childhood hunger in the U.S.” As a way to reconcile this disparity, the University of Arkansas Community Design Center (UACDC) came up with Fayetteville 2030, a set of planning guidelines that would introduce urban agriculture at scales that benefit local communities. The plan would complement the city’s growth projections by including a food-production program into yet-to-be developed land, merging agriculture with infrastructure, transportation, and housing. Strategies would include community gardens, composting networks, greenhouses, aquaculture facilities, and edible parks. Unlike the larger-scale industrial food production that ships food out of Arkansas, Fayetteville 2030 would distribute crops locally through exchanges, hubs, and markets. UACDC conceived the plan in such a way that it would meet other municipal objectives, too, including economic development, energy conservation, and resilience. —John Gendall
Project DescriptionFROM THE AIA:
The population of Fayetteville, a city in northwest Arkansas, is expected to grow swiftly in the next decade and a half, and with it, an increase in the already high rate of childhood hunger. The Fayetteville 2030 project team envisioned a way to reduce hunger in the state's third-largest city by integrating a network of mid-sized agricultural sites into the urban grid as it expands.
More than 28 percent of Arkansas children live in food-insecure situations, compared to 14.5 percent nationally, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The Food City plan aims to build in to Fayetteville, the seat of the state's most prosperous region--Wal-Mart's headquarters is half an hour north, in Bentonville--a sustainable approach to combating hunger while permeating new development with productive green spaces.
The intent is to “re-localize” food production at a scale that is larger than isolated home garden plots and smaller than the nation's current industrial scale. Future development would include not only the traditional sidewalks, parks and other public amenities, but an infrastructure that supports agriculture with spaces for growing food, distributing it, and turning waste into compost.
A key to the plan is to zone new developments so that they include spaces for growing food on the requisite scale. The vision includes orchards in street rights-of-way, residential front yards planted with edible crop plants, foraging landscapes within existing woodlands, and several other components that would transform the city into a quilt of food-production niches. All parts of the plan can be replicated in other cities, tailored to local conditions.
At the same time, the plan (funded by the Clinton Global Initiative) calls for transforming urban dwellers' mindset away from exclusive reliance on grocery stores and toward an understanding of the surrounding landscape as a food source. It entails the development of like-minded “growing guilds”—upgrading of the city's zoning book to allow for urban agriculture and its attendant purposes, such as waste recycling; and emphasizing the role of middle-scale urban agriculture in improving people's access to food and the overall quality of the environment in which they live.