Growing cities from within: urban agriculture in inner Brisbane.

Urban AgriculureThe integration of ‘multifunctional’ land uses including agriculture, has benefits such as decentralised food production, food security, reinforcement of farming as a way of life, cultural landscapes and biological diversity (Bjørkhauga and Richards, 2008). The difficulty arises as multifunctional approaches, although analysed from a policy and economic perspective, have not been integrated in spatial analysis (Wilson, 2009, p. 278).

Notable studies make it clear that we currently do not have the tools to deal with the planning or operation of multifunctional agriculture integrated with peri-urban communities. New ways of looking at farming practices are needed (Lawrence, et al., 2004; Bjørkhauga and Richards, 2008; Mason & Knowd, 2010). Existing planning systems are an inadequate basis for dealing with environmental change in the urban context, and new approaches are called for that respond to the specific local environmental, social, economic and institutional context (Allen, 2003). Complicating the process is the view that multifunctional planning must be locally and contextually relevant to find tangible expression on the ground (Wilson, 2009, p. 278). A new way of thinking is needed about how changing values and relationships impact on the design of sustainable urban forms and buildings (Webster-Mannison, 2006), and about how the legal framework relates to the way we design (Brannigan & Torero, 1999).

Agricultural and food planning is traditionally tackled by agriculture departments as a matter of industry policy, not integrated with landscape planning or built environments. However, there are new drivers, in particular the integration urban design, psychological perception of risk, resilience and engineering variables in the design of infrastructure (Torero, 2006), and how the urban-wild land interface and how urbanization of these spaces bring challenges to safety (Torero & Simeoni, 2010) including bushfires and flooding.

Context and Relevance:  By 2030, roughly two thirds of the human population will be living in cities according to projections by the United Nations. Studies of the ‘ecological footprint’ of cities show that the area affected by a city’s resource and waste management is much greater than its geographical spread. Consequently, in order to meet the challenges involved with this rapid urbanisation, including food security, water and waste management, biodiversity and ecosystem conservation, we need to develop a strategic planning approach that will promote sustainable resource management in cities.

Urban Agriculture in Inner Brisbane

This paper proposes a new way to integrate urban planning and design of our cities with multifunctional agriculture through the development of local infrastructure solutions in response to food production and energy, land, water supply pressures as part of a climate change adaptation strategy.

It lays the groundwork for a new way of structuring cities with particular emphasis on the potential to place urban agriculture at the heart of the community. A pilot study demonstrates how this can happen through the retrofit of the inner city Brisbane neighbourhoods situated in the historical catchment of Western Creek.

Dr Marci Webster-Mannison, Director, Centre for Sustainable Design, School of Architecture, University of Queensland presented this paper for inclusion in the Book of Proceedings of the 6th Making Cities Liveable Conference hosted by the Association.

Download a copy here: Growing cities from within: urban agriculture in inner Brisbane

Keywords: Urban agriculture; Green infrastructure; Retrofitting cities; Raising creeks.

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