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ASLA-NYs 4 CEUs and a Beer: Productive Landscapes in the Urban Environment

March 14, 2014 @ 1:00 pm - 7:00 pm

- Members: $79; Non-Members: $99; Happy Hour only: $10 members, $15 nonmembers


Productive Landscapes in the Urban Environment – Program Details

New Special Rate – see below

Date: March 14th, 2014

Time: 1-5:30pm Lectures | 5:30 – Happy Hour

Location: Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Place, NYC

With urban agriculture emerging globally, many NYC residents are actively transforming open space, roof tops and ecologically challenged environments to become local havens – productive landscapes providing a complex matrix of social, educational, nutritional and health benefits to their communities. But like everything else in NYC, survival is a challenge.  In a series of dialogues, learn how design, landscape architecture, agriculture and pollinators in the urban environment systemically relate, and examine new implementation trends to ensure the health and sustainability of these productive urban landscapes.

This event will feature leading thinkers in urban farming, productive landscape design, and experts with pollinators in the urban environment. In a series of moderated discussions, panelists will share their thoughts on how landscape architects and other design professions can apply their skills and provide services to create a more sustainable environment – one that supports food production not only as a bi-product but as the primary function with substantial benefits to New York City as a whole.

Please join us for the lecture series on Friday, March 14th from 1 to 5:30pm.  A happy hour will follow to allow attendees to continue the conversation with speakers and each other. To continue the success of our previous “4 CEUs and a Beer” events, 4 ASLA/AIA CEU credits are offered, along with a complimentary happy hour.

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Session 1 – Landscape Systems

Moderator: Sara Hobel (Executive Director at The Horticultural Society of New York)
Iain Kerr(Spurse) – After Nature: Thinking Urban Ecological Systems

How can we understand and interact with our urban environments as more than just failed natural systems in need of “repair”? Our cities are thriving complex ecosystems supporting a vast diversity of species. Iain Kerr, from the ecological design collaborative SPURSE, will present a systems thinking framework for landscape design that offers an alternative model to design with our urban ecosystems. He will focus on the role that food (multi-species eating) and the (multi-species) commons can play in landscape design practices

Martin Barry ( Design Trust for Public Spaces) – Bronx River FoodScape

Building on his work with the Five Borough Farm project and the Design Trust for Public Spaces, this talk will address the intersections of design, ecology and food at a systems scale as it relates to the existing Bronx River Greenway.

Matthew Potteiger  (SUNY ESF) –  Eating Ecologies: Food Systems, Narratives, Networks, and Spaces

Food is constantly changing, emerging from and morphing with the ecological, social and spatial processes of landscapes. However, due to the scale and complexity of these processes it is hard to see the interrelationships between food and landscape. This presentation offers a framework of three modes for representing and designing food and landscape systems: food narratives, food networks, and food spaces. The aim is to open new areas of design practice across multiple scales and integrate the spaces of food systems (production, processing, distribution, marketing, eating, and recycling) with urban landscapes. The emerging design practices are illustrated using examples from over eight years of teaching a “food studio,” research on case studies in North American cities, Japan, and Europe, and community-based projects.

Learning objectives
  1. Learn how to integrate a systems thinking approach to landscape design as  alternative model for urban design
  2. Learn how to analyze food systems and their link to landscape systems
  3. Examine three modes of representing and shaping food and landscape systems

Session 2 – Productive Landscapes in the Urban Environment

Moderator: Robin Elmslie Osler (Grow Studio)
Kate Bakewell (Bio Cities) – Productive Landscapes in the Urban Environments

The creation of high-functioning, productive landscapes within the urban realm requires a new approach to the design process, one in which Landscape Architects play a more central role.  In a shift away from standard conventional practices, previous methodologies and team compositions are now reconceived, with a greater focus on how landscapes function as ecological and cultural realms that contribute positively to human health, nutrition and well-being.  What kind of transformation will be required to move away from design strategies that merely seek to avoid environmental damage to ones that actively promote healthy, adaptive, and highly performing landscapes?  What forms of urban agriculture and related food systems might possibly emerge as a result of such a shift?  This talk will review the critical principles of contemporary ecology and collaborative design, and discuss their growing potential for creating productive and transformative landscapes for cities.

Kubi Ackerman – The Potential for Urban Agriculture in NYC

This talk will broadly address the role of urban design and planning in addressing urban agriculture and food systems in NYC, and will highlight work on mapping potential sites for urban agriculture and understanding implications for food security and its ability to provide ecosystem services to the city. The discussion will cover analyses of how much land in NYC could be productively used for agriculture and horticulture, a consideration of which crops and products are most suitable for NYC’s urban environment, policy and economic barriers to expanding agriculture production in the city, and evaluations of site availability for land-based and rooftop agriculture. Additionally, we will cover the potential role of multifunctional productive urban landscapes for stormwater mitigation, reduction of the urban heat-island effect, and waste-stream implications.

Alec Baxt (Farmingup) – The Potential for Rooftop Crops in NYC

NYC has just awakened to its 38,000 acres of rooftop and its potential to make the City more livable and less polluting. Wedding agriculture into building infrastructure can help address a number of the environmental impacts associated with our built environment while also providing new venues for job creation, education, community building and, of course, food production.

Learning objectives
  1. Examine key components of ecology and design for underpinning productive, enduring, and multi-purpose landscapes, including the potential multifunctional role of productive urban landscapes for stormwater mitigation and ‘green infrastructure’.
  2.  Understand the design profession’s role in urban agriculture through recent case studies
  3. Discuss alternative patterns and criteria for team composition, project objectives, design processes and professional collaborations and their application in optimizing urban agriculture and food systems.
  4. Learn to articulate the impacts of standard roofs, CSOs, UHIE, HVAC loading, unusable for recreation as well as how to evaluate site availability for land based and rooftop agriculture and discuss the mitigating potential of Agricultural Green Roofs.

Session 3 – The Practice of Urban Agriculture in NYC

Moderator: Susan Chin (Design Trust/ Five Borough Farms)
Barbara Wilks, FAIA, FASLA (Design Trust) – Five Borough Farms – Integrating community farms in public parks

The existing model for community gardens is a stand-alone design based on a totally fenced and separated  property with limited access.  When inserted into a public park, consideration should be given to making as much of the area public as possible.  Community gardens are composed of many parts and some of these can be open to the public. This research has led to a new model of integrating community plots into public parks which encourages greater engagement of the whole community in the garden process and learning objectives.

Yvi  McEvilly  – A conservancy for open space in New York City’s undeserved neighborhoods

New York Restoration Project’s mission is to clean and green underserved neighborhoods in all five boroughs of New York City.  From inception, NYRP has been committed to reclaiming and restoring declining open spaces, including the 52 community gardens the organization rescued from development in the nineties.  Matching private resources to gardens in need, NYRP staff designs or manages each renovation in a community-based participatory process to ensure that each space serves its neighborhood as a vital social, environmental and food-producing hub.  In an effort to deepen each garden’s meaning in the community, construction incorporates volunteer build events with local residents and institutions when possible. NYRP also runs educational programming with nearby elementary schools to give students a hands-on seed to plate experience focused on growing, maintaining and eating fresh fruits and vegetables.

Gil Lopez (Smiling Hogshead Ranch) – Harvesting the Urban Ecotones

The spaces between two biomes are often the most productive in nature. Unfortunately, these transitionary spaces are often overlooked and lost in the urban environment. These nooks and crannies may not work for housing or industry but opportunities for green infrastructures and agricultural production may exist. Landscape Architects have the critical skills required to identify and maximize the use of the many interstitial spaces between, beneath and atop a city’s communities, infrastructures and natural areas.

Learning Objectives
  1. Understanding of design and planning considerations used in NYC’s public parks that encourage and engage the community at large in the garden process,  displayed via case studies,
  2. Understanding of current methods and approach for community-based participatory process used with local groups to ensure longevity and sustainability of these gardens.
  3. Learn about ways to leverage the local food movement to improve a sense of community and facilitate real change.
  4. Learn about urban ecotones and explore the productive potentials of landscape in the spaces often overlooked and lost in the urban environment

Session 4 – Pollinators in the Urban Landscape

Moderator: Jennifer Nitzky (Chapter President Elect)
Dr. Mark Moffett  – Pollinators around the world.

An overview of the biological and economic importance of pollinators. Presentation will include the fascinating stories of tracking down some of the unusual species, from bees to geckos and lemurs, in the course of photographing an article on pollinators for the National Geographic Magazine.

Andrew Cote (Beekeeper) – Beekeeping in NYC

Andrew Cote is a fourth-generation beekeeper and polyglot who sells a gorgeous array of local honey varietals at Greenmarkets year-round. He was born into a beekeeping family in Connecticut and is (at least) the 4th generation to carry on this ancient art. Andrew runs Silvermine Apiary, home of Andrew’s Taste-Bud Bursting Local Wildflower Honey. The beekeeper dubbed by New York Times food journalist Mark Bittman as “one of the industry’s legends” and by Bon Appetit as “hot tempered”, is a Fulbright scholar and full-time professor as well as beekeeper extraordinaire. Andrew is also the founder of two non-profit organizations, Bees Without Borders and the New York City Beekeepers Association (NYCBA).

NYCBA is a hive for urban beekeepers and bee enthusiasts, which has been abuzz with excitement since New York City lifted its ban on beekeeping. The Association offers beekeeping classes and monthly workshops on topics ranging from swarm prevention to mead-making to the latest research on Colony Collapse Disorder.

Through Bees Without Borders, Andrew teaches beekeeping as a method of poverty alleviation for under-served communities from the local (East New York, Brooklyn) to the far-flung (Iraq, Uganda, Nigeria, Haiti, and Ecuador, to name a few).

At heart, Andrew is an educator. He teaches English and Literature to college students in order to cultivate minds and beekeeping in order to bring a sustainable source of income and pollination for agricultural projects in neglected areas of the city and of the world. Andrew is a dynamic speaker and has been seen, heard, or read about on The Martha Stewart Show, the BBC (radio and television), NPR (Leonard Lopate Show), PBS, CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, NHK, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Times of London, The Sydney Morning Herald, and in AP and Reuters articles worldwide, and many, many others including, but not limited to, television in Australia, Korea, Germany, France, Japan, and Russia.

Heidi Theunissen – COOKFOX (Architects) – COOKFOX Apiary – A Case Study

With discussions of urban farming filling news articles and successful examples seen in the work of groups like Brooklyn Grange, it seemed only natural that COOKFOX would use a portion of our 5600 square foot roof to explore our own interest in urban agriculture and rooftop farming.

While researching a project, our office discovered the Haudenosaunee’s documented symbiotic farming technique known as the “Three Sisters.”  The tradition of inter-planting corn, beans, and squash in the same mounds, widespread among Native American farming societies beyond the Haudenosaunee, is a sophisticated, sustainable system that provided long-term fertility and a healthy balanced diet to generations.

Our own Three Sisters garden has become a seasonal harvest, with active experimentation into saving heirloom seeds for future seasons. While the Three Sisters represented a very strong and cooperative relationship amongst the crops, research into the work of Toby Hemenway mentioned the use of a “fourth sister,” plantings used to attract bees for pollination purposes. Our efforts in urban agriculture have progressed in various stages since the completion of our green roof in 2006, yet beekeeping has only been legal in New York City since March 16th of 2010. Inspired by the mention of this “fourth sister”—its implications driving a stronger link between flora and fauna—and to help further our research and interest in our organic food production, we established our own apiary on April 4th of 2012. The honey bees are an active part of not only our ongoing research occurring on the roof, but represent a larger connection between man and nature.

The natural ecosystem on our green roof has become an example for our own work in urban environments, highlighting the need for social and economic diversity in order to create thriving sustainable communities.

Learning Objectives
  1. Examine the role of the pollinators in the ecosystem, the implication urban growth has on their habitat and resources, as well as discuss the importance of pollinators on local and regional economies.
  2. Learn how landscape architects and designers can promote an increase of pollinator populations in urban areas, including key design elements to create a highly effective pollinator habitat, especially in harsh environments like urban roof tops and traditional Native American farming techniques that may be applied in planting plans to attract bees for pollination purposes.
  3. Understand how commercial green roof space and gardens to provide habit for bees, as shown through case studies.
  4. Discuss challenges for including apiaries as part of open space associated with office, commercial and residential buildings in NYC.


Thank you to our generous sponsor, Bartlett Tree Experts.



March 14, 2014
1:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Members: $79; Non-Members: $99; Happy Hour only: $10 members, $15 nonmembers
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Center for Architecture
536 LaGuardia Pl , New York, NY 10012 United States
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