Top 4 Urban Agriculture Books for Landscape Architects

Top 4 Urban Agriculture Books for Landscape Architects

Yes, the internet has multiple learning outlets and an endless supply of websites, but books have that certain familiarity and dependability that we all gravitate back towards. There is nothing quite like the feel of turning a real-life page, so that is why my first installment in the UA Series is about books!  Below are my Top 4 page-turners about designing urban agriculture that belong on every designer’s shelf:

#1: Designing Urban Agriculture: A Complete Guide to the Planning, Design, Construction, Maintenance and Management of Edible Landscapes by April Phillips

Phillips’ book starts with an ecological background, and shows how food systems can be integrated back into the city. Exploring the relationship between makers and eaters, Designing Urban Agriculture, shows projects from around the world that incorporate all aspects of food including: street scape farms, plazas, community gardens, public farms, vertical walls, edible schools yards, and so much more… Her book also realizes that sustainable food systems are a lot more than just watering and weeding; showing you how to ‘do’ UA from start to finish, with information on: design, budget, construction, sustainability, and business and marketing.  Check out our Member Spotlight interview with April Philips where she tells in detail about her design philosophy and new book.


#2: Carrot City: Creating Places for Urban Agriculture by Mark Gorgoleski, June Komisar, and Joe Nasr

Over the past year Carrot City has been my UA bible – I have referred to it for just about everything. The book is divided into four sections based on where food can be applied: productive cities, building communities, the home, and the roof. It also features a section on growing components, (vertical screens, container gardening, hydroponics, etc.) and how they can by applied in your own home or community farm. Carrot City is an inspirational book, with all of its glossy images, it is sure to leave you with a ton of inspiration for your next project. The authors did a great job of making sure this book has a positive spin on incorporating food systems into our lives, and that we are still able to contribute to the revolution.

Cover Image Courtesy of Ryerson 

#3: Continuous Productive Urban Landscapes: Designing Urban Agriculture for Sustainable Cities by Andre Viljoen

This was one of the first books to be released about urban agriculture and it’s incorporation into cityscapes. Continuous Productive Urban Landscapes (CPUL) is a relatively new term, that describes the connection of ready-to-harvest and green-scapes that runs throughout the city, much like those green corridors and patches that we all strive for in our designs, but this time to include produce! CPUL’s is more of a text book, and proves to be a great resource in defining CPUL’s, and their history. Viljoen’s book also includes concepts, strategy planning, and a variety of different case studies and sections from other writers, to help introduce CPUL’s into your city.


#4: Agricultural Urbanism: Handbook for Building Sustainable Food Systems in 21st Century Cities by Janine de la Salle and Mark Holland

Take the bones of food production and add all the facilities: business attributes, learning and programming opportunities, etc., and you get this book. Agricultural Urbanism goes into detail about all of the other things that landscape architects are involved with that are still important in the food industry, even when the design is complete. It breaks down the different areas where food production can take place, and goes further into food processing, organic wholesale business, and education and training programs and opportunities. 

Cover Image Courtesy of Green Frigate Books 

Do you know of any other books that have helped you design UA or are an inspiration?

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  1. Thank you for this list-I have been wanting to buy a couple of references on this subject.  I was also looking at “Eat Up: The Inside Scoop on Rooftop Agriculture” by Lauren Mandel.  Have you heard anything about it?

  2. Oh no problem. I love all of these books. I have heard it, and read the back cover, it is supposed to be good. I have not read it yet though. If you do, let me know!

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