Project DescriptionThe title of this book is: ”Why we need small cows”. At first, you might think this is a somewhat strange title. However, the subject of Urban Agriculture requires thinking at a different level than we’re used to in industrial agriculture. The recent ‘movement’ of Urban Agriculture aims to grow food in urban environments.
What originally started as a small-scale sustainability effort in neighbourhoods has grown to a multi-faced development at different scales, in different areas, with different products and even different objectives. What all these initiatives, investigations and projects share is, they mark a break with the large-scale industrialised agriculture of the late 20th Century.
The key question then is how do we design and plan for a form of agriculture that is sized to fit in the existing urban patterns and structures of the contemporary city. The main difficulty of growing food in the city is that in many cases, because of a lack of successful urban-scale precedent, we end up using similar techniques and crops as one would in rural locations, only in smaller spaces. This often leads to small isolated initiatives, wherethese techniques are applied, which can lead to uneconomic solutions with higher costs. Thus, to succeed, we must seek alternatives, ones that provide different solutions, not only in the technologies used, the methods of collaboration and ways of financing, but also in the methods
and format of design.
In general, these new solutions are smaller solutions. Smaller cash cows, smaller crops and animals, smaller markets, smaller distances and smaller areas. Some aspects though are bigger: the networks in which exchange and collaboration flourishes, and the general involvement of people in the production of crops and food. Urban Agriculture is a young discipline and still needs to establish its place and communicate its merits. We are standing at the beginning of this development, and we are yet to know what are the optimal shapes, sizes and forms of agriculture in the city. However, what we can see clearly is the recent change in attitude and opinion regarding our food system. Safety, environmental impact and health issues urge us to reconsider the way we produce our food. People want to know, understand (and even celebrate) where their food comes from…