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Posts Tagged ‘FOOD’

BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

Researchers explore the role of design in aiding a global refugee crisis.

FROM THE SEPTEMBER 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

As a young girl, Elizabeth Brabec,  ASLA, knew her mother’s garden was different. Where the neighbors grew lettuce and carrots and cucumbers in neat rows, her family’s garden featured mounded beds of currants, gooseberries, and celeriac interspersed with fruit and nut-bearing trees. Everything was mixed together. Brabec didn’t understand the reason for the difference until she visited the Czech Republic decades later. Every garden looked like her mother’s.

That was the first time that Brabec, now a professor of landscape architecture at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, realized that gardens could function as an expression of a person’s heritage, a way for immigrants to create continuity between the old world and the new. Brabec’s parents fled Czechoslovakia in the 1940s to escape the ethnic cleansing that took place after World War II. When they arrived in Montreal, one of the first things her mother did was plant a garden, Brabec says, a garden modeled on the one her own mother had grown back in Prague.

For the past five years, Brabec has been studying this phenomenon, visiting refugee gardens around the world to document (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

“Altitudes” reorients formerly disused ecologies for the production of local cash crops, organized vertically in the Selva Central region of Peru. Image courtesy Openfabric.

The coffee production industry is a “global economy with a local ecology,” says Francesco Garofalo of the landscape architecture studio Openfabric. The studio has a plan for a coffee-producing region of Peru that would align local cultivation practices with global distribution networks. Openfabric’s “Altitudes” plan steps back from coffee plantation monocultures to spread cash crop risk by encouraging production of a range of foodstuffs. The goal is to create more sustainable cycles of cultivation, production, and distribution.

The plan focuses on the Selva Central region of Peru, east of Lima, which straddles both the Andes and the Amazon River Basin. The local economy is intensely reliant on coffee production, but it’s a fragile and volatile market. Prices surge and plummet on a whim, vulnerable to small climatic shifts that can greatly affect yield. That makes life for the region’s coffee producers precarious.

And lately, temperatures in Selva Central have been rising because of climate change, causing (more…)

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BY KATARINA KATSMA, ASLA

Traction believes landscape architecture is for the people, not just the elite.

FROM THE MAY 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

In 2016, as a student at the University of Washington, Coco Alarcón won the ASLA Student Residential Design Award of Excellence for his project to improve public health by creating food gardens in a soggy, stressed neighborhood in Iquitos, Peru. He was also named a National Olmsted Scholar finalist that same year. Since then, Alarcón, who is Peruvian, has been working with a multidisciplinary collective he co-founded called Traction (formerly the Informal Urban Communities Initiative) to try to bring his ideas to fruition. Using research, community outreach, activism, and educational workshops, Traction works with people from communities where resources are scarce to create new social and physical infrastructure that promotes health, safety, and beauty for residents. LAM recently caught up with Alarcón to find out how his group’s work has progressed toward giving people, as he hopes, the motivation they need to transform their environments into equitable, healthy places.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

What are you working on now?
One of our projects is to design and construct a landscape architecture intervention in a slum community and measure the impacts on human, ecological, and environmental health. For example, we are documenting changes in human microbiome, water quality, mental health, and biodiversity of birds and amphibians—among other measurements—in the community to understand the effects of a productive community garden.

Another project focuses on the collection of literature, local experiences, and interviews with experts from different disciplines to understand the role that landscape architecture has on the pandemic of vector-borne diseases related to the Aedes aegypti mosquito, including Zika, dengue, and chikungunya. (more…)

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