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Agri-tecture: Food's Next Big Movement?

Agri-tecture is a catchy new name for the intersection of architecture and agriculture which is being seen in the emerging urban farming movement.

Agri-tecture is a catchy new name for the intersection of architecture and agriculture which is being seen most prominently in the emerging urban farming movement. Henry Gordon-Smith, a graduate student in sustainability management at Columbia University, coined this unique word through his blog, Agri-tecture, where it’s defined as buildings that grow food or building-integrated agriculture (BIA).

In a recent post, Gordon-Smith highlighted the reality of food deserts in America. A food desert is loosely defined as a area where there is little to no access to fresh fruits, vegetables, and other elements of a healthy diet. A grocery store could be a couple of hours' walk away. Typically these areas are low-income, but that's not always the case.

The USDA recently published this interactive food desert locator map which shows where food deserts exist in the United States.

When thinking about where high-density urban farms might thrive, the folks at Agri-tecture see this map as a blueprint for change. “Improving the available fresh food in the urban food deserts across this country would be a good place to prioritize site selection for hydroponic and aeroponic farms. Distribution must be improved to build resilient food security,” he wrote.

Sustainable America aims to increase food availability in America by 50 percent by 2030. One of the important ways we plan to do this is through supporting efforts to increase and diversify the production of food in America. Urban farming is a great way to do that.

We’ve seen a number of innovative ideas cropping up, like farming in shipping containers, an old meatpacking plant in Chicago transformed into a vertical farm, and the award-winning Swedish design for a high-rise multipurpose greenhouse in the middle of Stockholm. All of these exciting concepts may be leading the way toward an urban farming explosion that will help to ease the strain on our food supply in ever-expanding urban centers across the country.

See more here.

This month, we're challenging the GOOD community to host a dinner party and cook a meal that contains fewer ingredients than the number of people on the guest list. Throughout March, we'll share ideas and resources for being more conscious about our food and food systems. Join the conversation at and on Twitter at #chewonit.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user GaryKnight; map courtesy of USDA

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