In 2009 Amsterdam based conceptual artist Debra Solomon founded URBANIAHOEVE Social Design Lab for Urban Agriculture and began developing edible, ecological landscapes in the Hague borough Schilderswijk. Since 2010 Urbaniahoeve has implemented a series of resilient urban food-system infrastructure at several locations in the public space in the Hague and Amsterdam (Foodscape Schilderswijk, Foodscape Wildeman, DemoGarden). By 2014 Urbaniahoeve’s critical spatial practice comprises more than 10 hectare of edible landscapes,public oven infrastructure, and educational programming. Urbaniahoeve’s vision of the urban public space as an ecologically coherent foodscape posits a productive, socio-natural city. In the style of naming one’s land and landscapes from Walden to the Farm, places inspired by selfreliance
and conviviality, in Dutch, Urbaniahoeve means, ‘the city as our farm’, indicating a desire to transform the ready-built city as the place where we might ‘get ourselves back to the garden’.
Urbaniahoeve Social Design Lab for Urban Agriculture produces edible landscapes in the public space of the city, transforming existing urban monocultures into an edible ecological framework. Urbaniahoeve was founded in the Netherlands in 2010 by Debra Solomon (artist, independent urban agriculture researcher), joined by Mariska van den Berg (art historian, writer, researcher of bottom-up public space infrastructure) in 2012. We initiate and coordinate structural forms of urban agriculture in the public space by creating a contiguous, resplendent, fertile, and edible
ecological framework in the existing public space of the city. We see ourselves as producers of (food system) infrastructure, creating park-like food forests, food-bearing ecosystems. With our small-scale urban agriculture projects, we strategically sow the seeds for a contiguous edible green infrastructure in the city, contributing to a marked increase in biodiversity in situ, the greening of the city as a whole, and producing fertile soils out of urban waste streams. Within the context of art, our work forms a critical spatial practice and our contextual framework
lies in spatial planning and public space. We do not consider the orchards and landscapes that we create to be art, rather the vision and related works that we produce as part of the process. Within the context of architecture and urban planning, our work exemplifies an event practice,demonstrating the empirical application of an holistic approach to the human-city-nature complex, a qualitative reconsideration of the real and actual city’s public space, rather than the
objective application of a statistical and quantitative inquiry on its usage.
Pre-URBANIAHOEVE – Debra Solomon’s early food-related work included a temporary concept restaurant exclusively serving micro-greens based up on the notion that northern urbanites without access to land and light could produce a significant portion of their own food. In the project Lucky Mi Fortune Cooking together with food entrepreneurs from Rotterdam’s Afrikaanderwijk and the Freehouse Collective, she set up a free kitchen that ‘super-used’ the surplus from the bi-weekly outdoor market as well as other existing products, infrastructure, expertise, and facilities. In 2007 Solomon co-curated the Edible City (Dutch Architecture Institute) on food and the built environment, and was food domain expert and designer of the DOTT07 Urban Farming Project, a design manifestation in Newcastle (UK). In 2008 she was designer invitee to the international design biennial at Saint-Etienne’s (FR) Cité du Design, showing community tools for food and sustainability (City Eco Lab). From 2005 to 2012 she was the author CULIBLOG.ORG, a weblog about food, food culture and the culture that grows our food which at the height of its popularity enjoyed 70,000 individual readers per month.
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