Advances in Nourishable Places at the TBEC in Baltimore

view of the Val d'Orcia through open casement window of inn in Pienza, Italy

   Creating place that are Nourishable is essential to creating places that are sustainable. When people first heard this idea in the early days of the Original Green, many thought it sounded completely crazy. “I can eat whatever I want wherever I want,” was a common reply.

   It was once completely obvious that “if you can’t eat there, you can’t live there.” But for several decades, the industrial food chain relegated the idea of eating locally to the quaint (some said lunatic) fringes of modern life, especially after World War II. But thanks to the relentless efforts of pioneers like J.I. and Robert Rodale, Alice Waters, John Jeavons, and others, a tiny but growing percentage of US citizens began taking back their food-making from the industrial food chain. More recently, other notables such as Michael Pollan and Michael Ableman have taken up the cause, as have organizations like Local Harvest and Slow Food, an international organization with chapters in nearly two dozen countries and “convivia” in hundreds of cities.

   All of these people and organizations advocate for local food for a number of benefits, including better nourishment and tastier food. And they are exactly right. But the idea that the ability to look out onto the fields and onto the waters from which much of your food comes is actually an integral part of sustainability hasn’t had so much airtime until recently. 

   Now, however, that idea is gathering steam. A number of issues are in play. For example, the weakening of the British Pound was the culprit in the spring 2009 spike in food costs. Why? Because so much British food needs a passport to arrive at the dinner table, and is therefore susceptible to currency strength. Food security becomes more questionable the further the food must travel, and the more it must be processed.

   Jim Kunstler spends a significant amount of energy raising the agricultural alarm. Andrés Duany has made Agricultural Urbanism a major initiative at DPZ (and one that I’m delighted to be helping with,) and the idea is gaining steam within the broader New Urbanism movement... which brings us to the reason for this post: I’ll be speaking Friday morning at the Traditional Building Exhibition & Conference in Baltimore, which runs from October 21-24.

   My session, which borrows DPZ’s Agricultural Urbanism title, will deal with all the ways that we can make places nourishable, with Good-Neighbor Agriculture that can snug right up to the edges of a neighborhood, and also what some of the current limitations are. I’ll be drawing on the current work of a number of people; much of this may be things you haven’t heard of before. Like “melon cradles,” for example... unless you’re a regular blog reader here, that’s probably an unfamiliar term. They’re part of the Green Walls of SmartDwelling I. The New Urban Guild’s Project:SmartDwelling integrates agriculture throughout architecture in a way that hopes to be beautiful, not merely productive. This session will take you through these methods in detail. And, with the speed at which these ideas are developing, it will likely include ideas that develop in the weeks between now and the session. Come to Baltimore and help us advance Nourishable Places!


~ Steve Mouzon


Legacy Comments:


Tuesday, October 6, 2009 - 11:13 PM

Kelly Athena

Where is this gorgeous location seen through the window?

Thanks for your thoughtful, sustainable wisdom.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009 - 04:28 PM

Steve Mouzon

Thanks so much, Kelly! This was the view out our hotel window in Pienza a few years ago, in the Val d'Orcia in Tuscany. The classic Tuscan landscape.


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