Architect: University of Arkansas Community Design Center
Location: Fayetteville, Arkansas
The Institute Honor Awards for Regional and Urban Design recognize the best in urban design, regional and city planning, and community development. Fayetteville 2030: Food City Scenario by the University of Arkansas is a 2016 recipient.
The population of Fayetteville, a city in northwest Arkansas, is expected to grow swiftly in the next decade and a half, and with it, an increase in the already high rate of childhood hunger. The Fayetteville 2030 project team envisioned a way to reduce hunger in the state's third-largest city by integrating a network of mid-sized agricultural sites into the urban grid as it expands.
More than 28 percent of Arkansas children live in food-insecure situations, compared to 14.5 percent nationally, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The Food City plan aims to build in to Fayetteville, the seat of the state's most prosperous region--Wal-Mart's headquarters is half an hour north, in Bentonville--a sustainable approach to combating hunger while permeating new development with productive green spaces.
"It addresses a big issue, one that could be replicated in many communities across the country." - Jury comment
The intent is to “re-localize” food production at a scale that is larger than isolated home garden plots and smaller than the nation's current industrial scale. Future development would include not only the traditional sidewalks, parks and other public amenities, but an infrastructure that supports agriculture with spaces for growing food, distributing it, and turning waste into compost.
"A refreshing example of a remarkable plan with tremendous local support." - Jury comment
A key to the plan is to zone new developments so that they include spaces for growing food on the requisite scale. The vision includes orchards in street rights-of-way, residential front yards planted with edible crop plants, foraging landscapes within existing woodlands, and several other components that would transform the city into a quilt of food-production niches. All parts of the plan can be replicated in other cities, tailored to local conditions.
"It codifies all the opportunities we have to provide these services to our cities." - Jury comment
At the same time, the plan (funded by the Clinton Global Initiative) calls for transforming urban dwellers' mindset away from exclusive reliance on grocery stores and toward an understanding of the surrounding landscape as a food source. It entails the development of like-minded “growing guilds”—upgrading of the city's zoning book to allow for urban agriculture and its attendant purposes, such as waste recycling; and emphasizing the role of middle-scale urban agriculture in improving people's access to food and the overall quality of the environment in which they live