Plum and pear trees shade park benches in Kamloops, British Columbia. Tomatoes and cucumbers burst forth from planters at City Hall in Provo, Utah. Strawberries and carrots flourish along the sunny sidewalks of a Los Angeles neighborhood.
The idea that public land could be used creatively to grow fresh food for local citizens was beginning to gain traction when Public Produce was first published in 2009, but there were few concrete examples of action. Today, things are different: fruits and vegetables are thriving in parks, plazas, along our streets, and around our civic buildings.
This revised edition of Public Produce profiles the many communities and community officials that are rethinking the role of public space in cities, and shows how places as diverse as parking lots and playgrounds can sustain health and happiness through fresh produce. But these efforts produce more than food. Revitalizing urban areas, connecting residents with their neighborhoods, and promoting healthier lifestyles are just a few of the community goods we harvest from growing fruits and vegetables in our public gathering spots.
Taking readers from inspiration to implementation, Public Produce is chock full of tantalizing images and hearty lessons for bringing agriculture back into our cities.
Arguing for a systematic overhaul to the modern American way of growing and processing their food, city planner Nordahl condemns "petrophile agribusiness" as no less than a threat to national security. To combat the growing crisis in health and consumption, Nordhal advocates a common-sense reassessment of local food practices, in which forgotten public spaces like empty lots and curbsides are reclaimed and seeded with fruits and vegetables; public gardens and parks, too, can easily blend aesthetically pleasing plant-life with functional food producers. Considering practical questions of policy and maintenance, Nordahl introduces innovative ways to feed a locality while helping "build revenue and community pride"; he cites cases like U.C. Davis, where groundskeepers transformed the campus's problematic olive trees (a perennial, path-slicking hazard for bicycles) into a profitable olive oil label. The paradigm shifts necessary to transform a community's relationship to agriculture are, in Nordhal's explanation, simpler than most would think, beginning with easy steps like public "food festivals" and city measures encouraging the planting of fruit trees and vegetable gardens. Nordhal's vision of a quiet revolution is vividly outlined in this volume, which should doubtless catch on among the slow food, locavore, and community gardening movements.