December 18 2013

Growing a Garden City: A Book Review on Duany’s Agrarian Urbanism

Is agriculture the new golf? Former skeptic Andres Duany says it very well could be. I was fortunate enough to hear Duany speak on his book, “Garden Cities: Theory & Practice of Agrarian Urbanism.” As usual, he didn’t disappoint with his energetic and blunt character that never needs a flashy presentation or pretty pictures to keep your interest.

Garden Cities Book Cover Garden Cities: Theory & Practice of Agrarian Urbanism

In Garden Cities, rather than the term “agricultural,” which focuses on the technical aspects of growing food, Duany deliberately uses the term “agrarian” to emphasize the society involved and all aspects of food: organizing, growing, processing, distributing, cooking and eating it.

Don’t get confused! Duany starts off by establishing a vocabulary that distinguishes the ways food production and planning can be integrated. Agricultural retention is simply an array of techniques to save existing farmland, like in the Green Belt of the UK. Urban agriculture is cultivation within existing cities and suburbs (i.e.: the San Francisco Urban Agriculture). Agricultural urbanism are settlements equipped with working farms; Serenbe is a great example. And finally, agrarian urbanism are settlements with a society encompassing all the aspects of food.

As a Kansas girl and having a father that grew up on a farm, I know that agriculture isn’t a glamorous job. Duany doesn’t overlook this detail – in fact, it was a part of his initial scepticism for several years as he studied rural restaurants with the Seaside-Pienza Institute. Similar to the contract workers that maintain a high-end golf course community, Duany suggests a similar management for agrarian urbanism, with the typical fees and salaries directed to edible landscapes.

“This is not your grandmother’s village,” Duany isn’t suggesting that we throw away our modern advances and go back to the hard life of the 1800s. But adapting the golf course model to an agrarian community might just give us the best of both worlds. Can such a community become a successful model of urbanism? I don’t know, but I’d sure like to see someone try.

The Market Square Garden Cities: Theory & Practice of Agrarian Urbanism

Garden Cities is a Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment publication, the fifth in its series of Senior Fellow Books. The Grid is giving away four FREE copies of the book. Go to Rafflecopter Giveaway to enter for a chance to win!

Would you live in a sustainable society that is involved with food in all its aspects?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Jennifer Garcia

Born and raised in the Midwest, Jennifer García now enjoys the energy and quality of life that Miami has to offer. Professionally, she uses traditional architecture and principles of the New Urbanism as a Town Planner at Dover, Kohl & Partners. Based on careful research, she designs each project within the context of the local architectural language, distinct culture, and regional settlement patterns. She proudly holds a Master of Architecture from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. Traveling has taught her to immerse herself into each place’s history, culture, traditions, and how they contribute to the range of urbanism and local vernacular. She also enjoys blogging as a local transit advocate for Transit Miami. Her daily bicycle commutes reinforce her belief in nurturing a living urbanism with livable streets.

Website - Twitter - Facebook - More Posts

This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 18th, 2013 at 9:17 am and is filed under Book Review, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


One Response to “Growing a Garden City: A Book Review on Duany’s Agrarian Urbanism”

  1. Christine Cepelak Says:


    Very cool that you get to review all these books!

    In response to your question: I don’t think so:) Haha, the picture you paint is one of somewhat detached-possibly sprawly?- urban areas, which is not a personal preference despite the benefits of including all parts of the food system.

    Does Duany address agriculture being incorporated into high density urban areas?? Ex: Vertical Farming (

Leave a Reply

7 − one =


Follow US