Urban depopulation and de-industrialization of American cities during the 20th century have created a long list of social and infrastructure challenges for cities, but one of the unexpected opportunities has been the chance to repurpose disused space.
Innovative individuals and organizations across the country have been establishing a vibrant urban agriculture industry, taking advantage of abandoned and vacant city lots to build small-scale farms with a variety of approaches from a social services emphasis to profit orientation and every combination between.
Philadelphia has a particularly active urban agriculture scene, and DECI-affiliated faculty have built connections with several of the most prominent farms in the city through collaborative research projects and links to relevant coursework. Christian Hunold's food politics course in political science features field trips to Greensgrow Farms, Weaver's Way Farm, and Mill Creek Farm. Likewise, Franco Montalto's environmental engineering students in sustainable water resources engineering have designed a water resource plan for Urban Tree Connection's farm in West Philadelphia.
DECI's multidimensional approach to thinking about urban agriculture includes studies of land use policy, environmental justice and politics, food politics, soil and water engineering, and nutrition and public health. DECI is additionally establishing a local farm that operates as an informal student, staff, and community organization and which will be available to faculty as a hands-on research and education site.
- Urban Agriculture and Ecological Citizenship in Philadelphia
- Urban Tree Connection Water Resources Plan