Greening and Filling Vacant Real Estate: Repurposing into Urban Gardens
October 10, 2009 by Robin Plaskoff Horton
Auto plant transformed into hydroponic garden: Landscape Architect Rick Kacenski, HOK Planning Group, St. Louis
Hydroponics in Auto Plant? The recent tidal change in local auto production and sales has resulted in numerous idled and shuttered facilities throughout our communities. The open bay nature of auto plants and showrooms can provide the space for hydroponic and aquaponic greenhouse operations. Empty car lots can house composting and soil improvement operations for the facilities and surrounding communities. The approach would embrace the traditional sustainable and cyclic nature of farming, utilizing passive solar energy, natural light and geothermal heating/cooling, and recycling of water and nutrients through crops and animals and compost. On the community level, it would provide locally grown produce, fish and seedling plants; employment; and reuse and recycling of abandoned facilities.
Community (Kitchen) Garden: Every major city has numerous empty lots. Part of the reason is decay over the years in underserved communities and the collapse of the residential market in other areas. An informal chat with a Planner from Gwinnett County revealed that just within that county there were about 18,000 parcels subdivided and ready to be developed with housing when the market crashed. All these parcels are candidates for community kitchen gardens. Philadelphia has already implemented an urban kitchen garden policy and many other U.S. cities could benefit from one.
Urban Designer, Chirayu Bhatt, HOK Planning Group, Atlanta
Greening the Freeway: Freeway interchanges can be transformed into self-sufficient, positive contributors to cities. There are a number of urban farming cooperatives in metro areas and small towns of America. Converting the un-usable green gaps of the interchange to usable farm land is a win-win for everyone. With a little motivation, a creative approach to land use and some entrepreneurial spirit in the community, an interchange farm can be up and running in close to no time.