Thursday, October 8, 2015

What do real estate developers have in common with urban farmers?

Photo by Sergio Ruiz
Did you hear the one about the two farmers that walked into a real estate developers office?  Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, right? Well actually, a growing trend in green building development is the integration of food production.  Check out the City Lab article on how food production integration is growing in popularity across the nation. 

I like the idea of buildings having rooftop gardens and food systems in place that can feed the tenants and serve as a community engagement project. However, I am a little hesitant to say this has long term potential. Maybe this hesitancy is because of my knowledge of how real estate development has often benefited at the expense of lower income groups. There are many stories of housing policies and developments that displaced many minority groups. Will food production on building rooftops increase property values and effectively push out lower income groups? Besides the economic and housing issues, I wonder if this is just a trend.

I would love for urban farmers, activists, and real estate developers to continue working together, I just hope that this collaboration lasts beyond it being a cool project or idea. For this idea to stick, I think there needs to be engagement with the residents who are to use these structures. Are they being educated about garden and food production upkeep? Are there initiatives in place to make sure this becomes normalcy versus a trendy fad?  These are just some questions that I thought of when reading the City Lab article. This is topic I will follow up on  to see the progress.

Your thoughts? Are food production collaborations between urban farmers, activists, and real estate developers here to stay or just a trend?


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