Urban gardens

I attended the Landscape Architecture Symposium at the Build Boston conference put on by the Boston Society of Architects (BSA) a few weeks ago. http://www.buildboston.com/la/ Though all four workshops were very well prepared and interesting, the one I enjoyed most was “Landscape and Urbanism.” The talk by Scheri Fultineer of Reisen Design Associates, reminded me of the exhibit I had just seen at The Laboratory. She discussed the edible food movement – the growth of the local food movement, farmer’s markets, and restaurants using local food producers. Fears of tainted food have driven some to seek out local foods in order to feel more secure about the supply. By visiting their community farmer’s makets, people can actually come to know food growers and thus are not as disconnected from their food sources. Fultineer also described community gardens which help feed local populations in Providence, RI and the urban farm which is a part of the Harvard Allston campus initiative (though much delayed at this point I fear). http://tiny.cc/3AuDl

About 100 years ago, 50% of the population of the United States lived in rural areas, that has now declined to 20%. As our society became more urbanized, we lost touch with our food sources. I believe I was only on a farm once as a child and I grew up in Wisconsin and Iowa. Though these are dairy and farming states, I lived in cities, not farming  communities. I was 15 before I saw green beans that hadn’t been pre-cut and frozen, so I asked my astonished Aunt Joan what the vetables were when I was confronted with them in her garden. Programs in Boston, such as The Food Project, can prevent that problem for our teenagers. Students selected for the summer program grow and distribute organic food to those in need.  http://thefoodproject.org/summer-youth-program

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Opening of THE LABORATORY at Harvard

On Sunday night I stopped by the opening of THE LABORATORY at Harvard. Located in the new Northwest Building at 52 Oxford Street (adjacent to the Harvard Museum of Natural History), this is a collaborative art/science exhibition and performance space in the lobby and lower lounge of the SOM designed structure. http://www.som.com/content.cfm/harvard_university_northwest_science_building.

There are two components of THE LABORATORY. The Idea Translation Lab facilitates transforming innovative student ideas into exhibitions that are shared with the Harvard community and the public. And the Artscience exhibitions feature artists and designers who create science-based pieces. One student project on  display, VERTIGROW, consists of modular units that grow food, compost food wastes and filter both air and water. The accompanying film uses a lively time-lapse sequence of tissue paper plants growing and origami fruits and vegetables being harvested by community members.  The first exhibit is on display from now until May 28, 2010.  http://www.thelaboratory.harvard.edu/go/Experiments.html