Nourishable places grow a significant portion of their food within a few miles of where it is eaten, and could grow more in a long emergency. Today, the ingredients of an average meal in the US travel over 1,300 miles to get to your table, and that number is growing every day. The data for meals in the EU is probably fairly similar. Currently, very few places in the United States are nourishable places, but as the industrializations of China and India continue, resulting in a billion new cars competing for gas over the next several years, the cost of food transportation will become much more significant.

   Nourishable places are found almost nowhere in the First World today because of the shallow inflections in real estate value. Because we can drive for miles in a short period of time, we tend to value farmland similar to developable land in town a few miles away. This means that the farmland is easily gobbled up for new development. In order to be able to look from a town to the fields where your food is raised, conditions must be developed that allow for sharp inflections in real estate value at the edge of town. There is much work to do in this regard.

   The most promising development leading to nourishable places is work over recent decades to make agriculture more compact. Large-scale agriculture is very man-hour efficient, allowing huge quantities of food to be raised using very few laborers, but it does not use land area so efficiently. But bio-intensive methods, some of which have existed for centuries, allow all of the food needs of one person to be met on as little as one quarter of an acre. Nourishable places usually incorporate the following principles:

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Gardens are opportunistic, occurring wherever there is available earth.


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It is possible to use edible annuals, edible perennials, and edible trees as a part of edible landscaping that is also beautiful. The Tuscan landscape pictured above is purely agricultural, and also is some of the most famously beautiful in the world.


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The land just outside the hamlet, village, or town is most important to use for agriculture if the place is to be a Nourishable Place, even if the terrain is difficult. Steeply sloping land may be terraced in order to hold the soil and make gardens easier to tend. Note the steepness of the land above upon which these terraces are built on the Sorrentine Peninsula in Italy.


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Bio-intensive gardens usually incorporate multiple layers, with both tall plants and short plants growing in the same place as illustrated above. They also incorporate raised beds rather than rows. Row cropping is more efficient for industrial agriculture that uses large tractors, while raised beds are far more efficient per acre, but are more suitable to tending by hand. Raised beds are typically 2-3 feet wide, with narrow footpaths in between, so that a person on the footpath can reach to the center of the bed.


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Nourishable Places Resources

Nourishable Places Bookshelf contains a growing collection of books that contribute to various aspects of nourishable places.

Lovable Edible Gardens is a list of gardens designed to be ornamental as well as nourishing. 


Nourishable Places Links

Slow Food USA is the epicenter of the Slow Food movement, which celebrates the enjoyment of food, rather than the speed of food


Nourishable Places Blog Posts

the Chael-Dover Cottage - What the Original Green Looks Like paints a picture of a highly sustainable house using the Original Green standard.

The Coming Golden Age of Great Necessities explores ways in which apparent oncoming times of scarcity can actually teach us to live more sustainably.

The Green Academy - Or Not is a report card on today's architectural education measured by Original Green foundations.

The Gizmo Green Conundrum pits an icon of Gizmo Green (a Chicago parking deck promoting itself as being green) against the eight foundations of the Original Green.

Earth Day - A Symptom of Our Disease? takes a critical look at our habit of pledging allegiance to sustainability one day out of the year, but for getting the basics (like nourishable places) for the rest of the year.

LEED for Homes Awards - or - How To Shoot Yourself in the Foot measures award-winning homes against the foundation principles of the Original Green.

Original Green Places - South Main examines a Colorado community through the lenses of Original Green foundations.

Hydroponics - Miracle or Threat? takes a critical look at this increasingly popular way of growing vegetables.

Local Places - Aurea in San Francisco tells the story of a restaurant that makes a big deal of its use of local ingredients.

SmartDwelling I - The Kitchen Garden describes the bio-intensive vegetable garden in SmartDwelling I

SmartDwelling I - Green Walls details the harvestable walls of this design.

Michael Pollan - In Defense of Food - and the Original Green recounts the In Defense of Food author's lecture, and the striking similarities between it and several Original Green principles.

After Earth Day - What Next? What Can I Do? is the top ten things we each can do to be more sustainable, and includes planting a victory garden to help make your place more nourishable.

Tiny Places - Mike & Patty's takes a look at why tiny restaurants are more likely to serve locally-grown food.

Diagramming the Original Green shows the relationship between the foundations of sustainable places and sustainable buildings.

Serenbe - A Nourishing Place begins with a story on Serenbe and steps through several recent advances in the move toward Nourishable Places.

Towards Sustainable Architecture describes the foundation of principles of the New Urban Guild’s Project:SmartDwelling, and is based firmly on allowing onsite gardening.

Green Sheds can be the centerpiece of gardening on your lot.


Nourishable Places on OGTV

Andrés Duany on Garden Cities is Duany's pecha kucha presentation on his new book at CNU19 in Madison.


Nourishable Places Albums

The SmartDwelling I poster illustrates several features of this home design that help to nourish its inhabitants.


Nourishable Places Presentations

All presentations entitled "Original Green" on the Presentations page deal with all eight foundations of sustainability, including nourishable places.

Urban Agriculture Design Elements describe numerous techniques and patterns for creating a nourishable place.

© The Guild Foundation 2013