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Urban agroforestry for Food Security and Climate Resilience
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Urban agriculture has been promoted as a strategy for providing a wide range of ecosystem services, yet most of these agroecological systems are dominated by annual, cultivated crops commonly found in community gardens, market farms, and residential yards. When annual cropping systems are prioritized over habitats that include trees and shrubs, they could come into conflict with other urban planning goals that seek to improve the resilience of cities. Urban agroforestry offers a transformative solution that supports production functions through the provisioning of healthy fruits and nuts, but within a perennial system that closely mimics a multi-strata forest ecosystem. When approached from an agroecological perspective, urban agroforestry could contribute to resilience planning initiatives by improving food security, climate change adaptation, and microclimate conditions. Urban planning strategies that embrace and facilitate such an approach can help cities navigate the inevitable yet unpredictable future challenges related to climate variability and competition for limited resources. We call on planners, policy-makers, and researchers to offer thoughtful solutions to support multifunctional green infrastructure and to develop and pursue innovative strategies for actively engaging local communities in the development of that infrastructure, from project initiation to on-going, community-based management of the completed project. Chicago, IL, USA serves as a case study for considering urban agroforestry applications through both retrofitting existing green spaces and planning future multifunctional landscapes.

Sarah Lovell, University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry
John Taylor, University of Rhode Island

Food Forests – Building Edible Community Landscapes
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There is a growing interest in creating perennial edible landscapes for families and communities. People are familiar with community gardens, but have you heard of community food forests? A food forest combines trees, shrubs, vines, perennials and self-seeding annuals to produce vegetables, fruits and nuts. These plantings provide healthy foods while protecting soil and water resources and adding carbon to underutilized properties. Food forests can address the need for urban food security, resilient communities, and productive public lands. Food forests are established almost anywhere but are commonly found in community green spaces and riparian areas. This presentation will discuss what a food forest is, examples of food forests, plants producing edible fruits and nuts and resources to find more information. Learn more about Food Forests, edible landscapes and how you can be involved or educate others in your community.

Gary Wyatt, University of Minnesota Extension

Designing Multifunctional Urban Agroforestry with People in Mind
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Urban landscapes which combine trees and crops—urban agroforestry (UAF) systems—may offer greater ecological and cultural benefits than the typical annual cropping systems of urban agriculture, including increased carbon sequestration. Interest in UAF is growing, with an increasing number of built projects and articles in the popular press and the academic literature on the subject. However, the practice of UAF appears to outpace research on its design and dynamics. Developing sustainable, resilient UAF sites can be challenging due to biophysical and sociocultural conditions unique to the city, but cities offer opportunities not found in rural environments, including the potential to close open nutrient loops between consumers and sites of food production. We argue that these challenges and opportunities can be best addressed through an ecological aesthetic design language attending equally to the productive, ecological, and cultural functions of UAFs. Based on a purposive review of the literature in urban agroecology and allied fields, environmental psychology, and landscape architecture, we develop a set of multidisciplinary principles and preliminary guidelines for the design of multifunctional, culturally-preferred UAF and lay the foundation for future research on UAF design.

John Taylor, MLA, PhD, University of Rhode Island, Department of Plant Sciences and Entomology
Sarah Lovell, MLA, PhD, University of Missouri, Center for Agroforestry

The Arcosanti Food Forest
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Food forests are an agroforestry practice that provides benefits well beyond food production. For example, they are a type of multistrata agroforestry, which is ranked #28 on Project Drawdown’s list of the 100 top climate solutions. Beginning in January 2020 a small team began planning a new food forest to be established at Arcosanti, a 50-year-old experimental town located in the high desert, approximately 70 miles north of Phoenix, Arizona. Arcosanti is an ambitious project envisioned as an experiment in living frugally and with a limited environmental footprint. The food forest project is part of a larger program to revitalize both agriculture and education at Arcosanti. Beginning in the summer of 2020 work parties began preparing a 0.67-acre site, which consisted of a vacant, weedy field and a small stand of paulownia trees. Site preparation has followed a design that includes a network of shallow basins, meandering paths and two small areas that will serve as gathering places and to display artwork. The first plantings of fruit trees and shrubs, many of which were transplanted from the property of one of the team members, occurred in November. Although the work on this food forest is still in its early stages it is already attracting considerable attention. The work parties have grown from mostly members of the Arcosanti community to include groups of AmeriCorps and Pacific Discovery volunteers, students from Yavapai College and Northern Arizona University, and others who are not Arcosanti residents. Thousands of visitors come from around the region and the world every year to visit Arcosanti, making it an ideal location to demonstrate and promote the scaling up of food forests.

James Allen, Northern Arizona University, School of Forestry
David Tollas, Arcosanti Cameron Lincoln, Arcosanti
Rob Jackson, Arcosanti


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