2020 National Planning Conference

How Food Shapes Our Cities

Saturday, April 13, 2019 from 10:45 a.m. - noon PDT

CM | 1.25

Activity Type: Educational Sessions

Activity ID: NPC198073

Location: 2003

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  • Observe how food has historically shaped the physical layout of cities.
  • Understand how urban agriculture fosters more equitable cities and improves the health of residents.
  • Learn how controlled environment agriculture is impacting new development in contemporary cities and the reshaping the urban public realm.


Since the dawn of cultivation, cities have been inextricably linked to food. From 1st century Rome to 19th century London to 21st century Shanghai, we remain as dependent on the natural world as our ancient ancestors were. Research indicates that city dwellers actually eat more than their rural counterparts. In an era of climate change and destabilization, and with 80 percent of global food controlled by only five multinational corporations, our cities have become vulnerable to unnecessary risk. But some are forging a new path forward. Explore how urban agriculture is shifting this trajectory. For example, Atlanta is the first major city with a director of urban agriculture who reports directly to the mayor. This organizational structure has created unprecedented social and economic opportunities, including a lease with Georgia Power to establish urban farms on energy corridor easements. In other cities around the world, rapidly developing technologies in vertical farming have created an emerging economic sector valued at $9 billion. Today, this industry is poised meet the food needs of major cities. Ongoing research from the National Science Foundation and Cornell shows that vertical farming has benefits ranging from energy efficiency to greater yields and higher nutrient loads, proving that you can have your kale and eat it too.

This course is approved to offer 1.25 PDH|HSW (ASLA).

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Session Speakers

Henry Gordon-Smith
Agritecture Consulting
New York

Mario C. Cambardella
Mayor's Office of Resilience, City of Atlanta
Chamblee, GA

Michael Grove
Watertown, MA