Urban Agriculture: 8 Landscape Architecture Firms Leading the Way

There are few landscape architecture firms today that can say Urban Agriculture Design is on their shortlist of services offered.  Most firms are capable of designing a productive space, of course, whether or not they can say they specialize in this area of design is another matter. Below are eight North American Landscape Architecture firms that are leading the way through their own advocacy and stellar Urban Agriculture projects. 

1. HB Lanarc - Vancouver & Nanimo, BC

Located on Canada's west coast, this landscape architecture firm concentrates on sustainability, focusing on ways to design the "ecologically resilient, and prosperous communities" of tomorrow. HB Lanarc also has several specialties,  one of course including urban agriculture. Their focus is a little more broad however, "Sustainable Food Systems & Agricultural Urbanism," is the technical service provided. Designing urban farms is only one aspect of their speciality, they also provide policy, planning, and guidelines for food systems in cities.

In my first installment of the UA series, I listed the Top 4 Urban Agriculture Books, including Agricultural Urbanism.  The author, Janine de la Salle, is the Planner and Food Agricultural Systems Specialist. She not only provides designs, but also works with municipalities to develop food strategies and policy, and shares her knowledge through lectures and workshops on urban agriculture. 

In their portfolio is a project called 'False Creek Urban Agriculture Design Guidelines'. This project works on fitting productive landscapes into residential landscapes, and how food in the community can help redesign and rebuild a neighbourhood's social and sustainable outlook. 

Image courtesy of Vancouver.ca

2. Grow Studio (EOA) - New York, NY

At the offices of EOA (Elmslie Osler Architecture) there is a division called Grow Studio, which specializes in urban agriculture. Like the other firms mentioned in my list, Grow Studio brings added value to EOA and visa-versa, as they focus on integrating food systems into the "existing commercial, residential, and community and ivic parks." EOA also specializes in architectural branding, so rest a sure that any urban agriculture project will be distinctive.

One cool project that is still in the works is called The Urban Farming Food Chain. It is a series of vertical growing spaces in the city, which create a continuous harvest of fruits and veggies. They also plan on adding a classroom and kitchen facilities in phase 4. 

Image courtesy of EOA.

3. Urban Edge Studio - Mount Pleasant, SC 

  

Bill Eubanks, the Creative Director for Urban Edge Studio (UES), recently spoke at LaBASH 2013 (a student run conference for students in landscape architecture) about designing urban agriculture. UES specializes in urban walkability, streetscapes, plazas and parks and pretty much anything else to do with the 'urban-scape,' and it just so happens that all their design beliefs support urban agriculture as well. 

UES has done multiple urban agricultural projects, but one in particular, called the Medical University of South Carolina's Urban Farm (MUSC), they worked on in collaboration with Crop Up. The landscape architectural and urban design skills of UES matched with Crop Up's educational, inspirational, and planning background, made MUSC Farm a successful design. MUSC Urban Farm stands by the university's mission to attain healthy lifestyles and to educate people, by adding classrooms, workshops, and food production and educational opportunities.

Image courtesy of Urban Edge Studio Blog

4. Crop Up - Charleston, SC

Crop Up is a consulting firm that specializes in creating "food projects in urban areas." Founder Elizabeth Peak's expertise and experience in permaculture and food education gives her the perfect edge in completing urban agriculture projects.

Image courtesy of MUSC Urban Farm Facebook page.

5. April Philips Design Works - San Rafael, CA

April Philips Design Works (APDW) focuses on places for people to escape and enjoy. The firm also specializes on the sustainability aspect of projects.  Lead by April Philips, author of Designing Urban Agriculture, APDW offers the regular services of any successful landscape architecture firm, plus something special: urban agricultural landscapes and green roof design. Her credibility, expertise, and knowledge, give this firm an agricultural advantage. 

APDW in conjunction with Miller Creek Middle School created the Miller Creek Edible Garden - a kid friendly, food focused, learning sanctuary right on the school grounds. The design focuses on experiential and hands on learning. 

Image courtesy of Miller Creek Edible Garden Blogspot.

6. Kenneth Weikal Landscape Architecture - Farmington Hill, MI.

Kenneth Weikal Landscape Architecture is a well know landscape architecture firm, specializing in sustainability, horticulture, master planning, etc., and now, productive landscapes. The firm designed the famous Lafayette Greens Urban Garden in Lafayette, Detroit. This garden is in the heart of an under-utilized and forgotten section of downtown Detroit. Now the farm has revitalized the area and has allowed people to gain a sense of community and have a place to learn and interact with one another. Landscape Architecture Magazine (LAM) recently did an article on the farm in their April issue. 

7. Nelson Byrd Woltz - California, New York, & Virginia

Nelson Byrd Woltz, the classic and quite recognizable landscape architecture firm (the one that designed one of my favourite public parks - City Garden), now does food landscapes. NBW recently just came out with a book called Garden, Park, Community, Farm which shows off selected works. The firm designed the Urban Farm of Charlottesville in a low income area with hopes to create a sense of community, access to fresh food, and to help educate the citizens about nutrition. 

8. BASE Landscape - San Francisco & Berkeley, CA

"Landscapes are the physical manifestations of our values," is this firms design philosophy. BASE Landscape wants to recreate what we as humans value the most, and they sure know that this is to sustain ourselves (or in other words... food).  A fun and collaborative studio, BASE specializes in 'foodscapes' and a quick look at their portfolio will show you some of the groundbreaking projects they have been working on. 

Once a former parking lot, the Bronx Roofpark is five acres of rooftop farm and playground - the ultimate oasis for food education with outdoor kitchens, recreational activities and play spaces to inspire New York City's youth. 

Image courtesy of BASE Landscape Architecture // Samantha Dabney.  All images above courtesy of firm unless otherwise noted.  

Do you know of other landscape architecture firms that specialize in urban agriculture projects?  Let us know your favorite by leaving a comment below... 

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Tags: APDW, April, April Philips, Base Landscape, Design, Firms, Philips, Projects, Urban Agriculture, Works", More…urban agriculture in landscape architecture

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Comment by Abbagail Jewel Taddei on July 4, 2013 at 7:26am

Oh very cool to know! Thanks for the info Kelly.

Comment by Kelly Rench on July 1, 2013 at 1:52pm

Berger Partnership, the landscape architects for the Bullitt Center and McGilvra Park Place, could be considered for your list of firms leading the way in urban agriculture.  Since creating the 2012 ASLA Honor Award winning Productive Neighborhoods, a case based exploration of Seattle Urban Agriculture Projects, they are in the process of constructing two urban agriculture projects, Rainier Beach Urban Farm, and a commercial farm on top of Stack House, a mixed-use development in downtown Seattle. The Rainier Beach Urban Farm project is one of the first publicly supported urban agriculture projects and required revisions to the city's urban agriculture permitting regulations because it's size - 10 acres.

Comment by Ernst Glaeser on June 27, 2013 at 6:42am

Urban Farming, Suburban Allotment Culture, Garden Cities, Strawberries instead of Vinca minor, barking dogs, sheep instead of lawn mowers, yelling neighbours over plants throwing shade or shedding leaves.

Are these recurring movements of urban flight and rural exodus not the perpetuum mobile of life? Urban farming is as old as mankind trying to settle in towns and cities or townies trying to settle in the glorified countryside. Once it is identified that the fruits, vegetables, and herbs are uneatable because of car exhausts and other heavy metals, or that pigs and chicken shit stinks to heaven a teaching process starts. The newcomers try to teach and educate the oldies; they turn into little dictators, run the show, until they had enough and go disillusioned back from where they came, civilised nomads.

Today’s steering of these socio-economic trends and cycles are mainly done by life style propagations of high gloss magazines and the cost of living. Oh, yes, milk comes out of a carton, and carrots grow in the supermarkets, energy out of a socket and water out of the tap, wisdom is transferred by television.

I don’t believe in urban farming, says me, living in Doha, Qatar as an expatriate and growing herbs and vegetable on my balcony. I miss my countryside, my little village (a dwelling of 187 inhabitants, less then living in the tower next to me).      

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