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Articles by Darrin Nordahl

Darrin Nordahl is the city designer at the Davenport Design Center, a division of the Community & Economic Development Department of the City of Davenport, Iowa. He has taught in the planning program at the University of California at Berkeley and is the author of My Kind of Transit and <a href="http://islandpress.org/bookstore/details607b.html?prod_id=19155"Public Produce, which makes a case for local government involvement in shaping food policy.

Featured Article

The produce outside the capitol building at Madison, WI, is donated to a food pantry.(Kelly Hafermann/Flickr)

Chard is one of the many plants growing in the Montpelier, Vt. state house vegetable garden.Photo: Waldo Jaquith via FlickrThere’s a new breed of urban agriculture germinating throughout the country, one whose seeds come from an unlikely source.

Local government officials from Baltimore, Md., to Bainbridge Island, Wash. are plowing under the ubiquitous hydrangeas, petunias, daylilies, and turf grass around public buildings, and planting fruits and vegetables instead — as well as in underutilized spaces in our parks, plazas, street medians, and even parking lots. The new attitude at forward-thinking city halls seems to be, in a tough economy, why expend precious resources growing ornamental plants, when you can grow edible ones? And the bounty from these municipal gardens — call it public produce — not only promotes healthy eating, it bolsters food security simply by providing passersby with ready access to low- or no-cost fresh fruits and vegetables.

But is this really city government’s job?

As long as munici... Read more