Monday, December 12, 2011

Carrot City

On the subject of green gifts (see the seeds-as-stocking-stuffers post)...if you have a friend who is into urban and edible gardening, city farming, landscape designing, architecturing, school-teaching, city planning or green-mentoring, Carrot City, by Monacelli Press might be a good choice.

I have been working my way through it and finding many of the projects it describes - from China to England to New York - very inspiring as well as eye opening. As a gardener, a person who gets her hands in actual soil to make plants grow, I am drawn to images of real gardens or microfarms with real plants, so prefer the warmth of spaces where the actual green area has been photographed (the book is heavy with computer graphics and those creepy see-through humans...). But amongst the 40 projects profiled, stand out examples of the real - rather than conceptualized - deal are (New York in the house!): Eagle Street and Brooklyn Grange, our "outer borough" rooftop farms; the stunning Gary Comer Youth Center in Chicago, designed by Hoerr Stadt Landscape Architects and John Ronan Architects; the Uncommon Ground Restaurant in Chicago; Maison Productive House (a bit of redundancy going on there?) in Montreal.

It doesn't hurt that the photos showing these spaces are superlative. There are many more, from streetscapes in the suburbs to planned vertical housing units in Wuhan, China, with individualized food production spaces.

A blooper at the end of the book shows a hanging wall full of wilted plants - not sure how that made the cut. But it is inadvertantly helpful. Just because it's vertical doesn't mean it's going to work. But that is the gardener in me.

While it tends to an academic dryness, it remains a rather thoughtful examination of what is, why and what it can become: Imaging what a city can be, in terms of green productivity, how to build community through gardens, redesigning the home landscape in tightly urban settings, producing food on roofs and examining the components needed or available for this food production to work.


  1. Heard this Radio Netherlands Worldwide podcast, and the 4th story (Cultivating crops at the top) reminded me of you. Thought you might enjoy it.

  2. Came across this article/video and thought you might be interested in her work. Or she in yours.

  3. I'll have to check it out! I'm due for another gardening book.

  4. Katie - thanks for the link!

    Anonymous - I know Marielle through the web and Facebook, although we have not met in person (yet) :-)I love that series.

    Hi Thomas - do you give yourself a gardening book allowance?


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