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Over 18 years and more than 160 issues of Environmental Building News, I've written quite a few articles — I hesitate to think about how many — but out of all of those, I think I had more fun and learned more in writing my most recent than ever before. "Growing Food Locally: Integrating Agriculture into our Built Environment" examines opportunities for producing food around, and on, our buildings that few architects, builders, or developers have yet considered. I think I had my first vegetable garden when I was five or six — back in Berwyn, Pennsylvania. There were a few years during college and perhaps some of my time in New Mexico when gardening didn't fit into my life. But other than that, growing some of my food has always been important to me. Thus, I surprised myself to realize a few months ago that I had yet to write — or even consider — an article for EBN addressing the potential for integrating food production into our built environment. I had nibbled (sorry!) around the edges with articles about green roofs and passive survivability, but for some reason it never occurred to me to tackle this topic of food production directly. So I dove in with weeks of concentrated research, interviews, and even a quick trip across the country to participate in a symposium on "Building-Integrated Sustainable Agriculture" in Berkeley, sponsored by the start-up company Sky Vegetables. Reflecting on this research, I gotta say, I think have the best job in the world — to be able to spend such concentrated time learning about such inspirational projects around the country! From a community gardening program in the poor, Puerto Rican neighborhoods of Holyoke, Massachusetts (Nuestras Raices), to a nonprofit farming operation in Chicago (City Farm) that figured out a way to grow vegetables safely even where soils are contaminated, to a half-acre rooftop greenhouse operation on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, to an innovative aquaponic operation in Wisconsin that generates all the nutrients needed for organic hydroponic vegetable production from aquaculture wastes... these are amazing stories that I think will inspire you as much as they inspired me. And if you want to learn about something really bizarre, check out the sidebar in the article on using black soldier fly larvae to turn all sorts of organic waste into high-protein food for chickens or fish. While we didn't squeeze it into the February issue of EBN, I also wrote an editorial, available only online, that elaborates a bit more on why food production should be a part of green building. — Alex Wilson

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1 Thanks for posting this great posted by Jamie Harvie on 02/04/2009 at 05:02 am

Thanks for posting this great article which speaks to the new eco agricultural revolution and how integrated design necessarily includes the local food system. The American Planning Association recognized this when they adopted a policy that encourages its members, 65 percent of whom work for state and local government agencies, to help build “stronger, sustainable and more self-reliant” local food systems.

Readers should be aware of the new Green Guide for Healthcare Food Service credits, a component of the new Green Guide for Healthcare Operations credits. These are the first and only comprehensive food service metrics available in the marketplace (as far as we know!). The healthcare community which we represent is extremely excited about this guidance with several systems using the credits to develop benchmarks.

For those interested, the credits are available at for free download or in the resource section at FoodMed 09 The Third International Conference on Local, Sustainable Healthcare Food ( will feature presentations on the GGHC food credits, with case studies and examples.

Jamie Harvie

2 The website at http://www.whi posted by Mark Piepkorn on 02/26/2009 at 01:52 am

The website at says: Why Do We Need a White House Farmer? Because everyone, from your family and friends to our First Family and their guests, needs to know who grew their food and how it was grown. This site was launched in November 2008 as a forum to follow up on Michael Pollan's call for a White House Farmer. Pollan suggested the farmer be charged with transforming 'five prime south-facing acres of the White House lawn and plant[ing] in their place an organic fruit and vegetable garden' whose produce will be used by the White House Chef, and given to area food banks.

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