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Urban Agriculture Pilot at North Hills

Added on by Erin White.

Through much of 2016, Community Food Lab assisted one of Raleigh’s premier mixed-use districts in identifying and defining urban agriculture opportunities. Urban farms, community gardens, and edible landscapes all inspired new thinking that re-imagined food growing as a driver of meaningful visitor experience, wellness, and placemaking.

North Hills, an outdoor mixed-use shopping and residential district of midtown Raleigh, NC, already hosts a weekly farmers market, seasonal plant and tree markets, and a number of restaurants that feature local products. Building on this experience and recognizing the growing trend in local food, North Hills sees the impact urban agriculture could have on its evolving role as an innovative, vibrant destination.

Through a multi-stage consulting and planning process, Community Food Lab began the North Hills Urban Agriculture Pilots by envisioning four goals to drive urban agriculture:  

  • Foster community 
  • Support thriving businesses 
  • Build sustainability 
  • Spark innovation 

These four goals supported a high-level vision and phased development plan for urban agriculture at North Hills, and resulted in connections between an interested farmer with land at North Hills. With the consultation of Community Food Lab, North Hills continues to explore options for an urban agriculture approach composed of demonstration gardens, urban farms, community gardens, and edible landscapes.

When implemented, the Urban Agriculture Pilots at North Hills will enhance this district’s value and reputation as an innovative regional leader in mixed-use commercial and community-focused development.

Church on Morgan: Participatory Planning for a Rooftop Garden

Added on by Erin White.
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In early 2016, Community Food Lab joined members of the Church on Morgan to plan a roof garden on their new building in downtown Raleigh. Community Food Lab led a four-month participatory planning process, during which Erin White facilitated conversations among Church on Morgan congregants around the vision for the rooftop’s physical space, mission, and activities through a process of discussion, feedback, and idea development. Supporting the collective work, Community Food Lab engaged structural engineers to propose and estimate costs for the imagined roof garden. 

The core idea of the project is to literally express the vision of a “Garden in the City,” sparking connections and creative thinking about the role of the Church in Raleigh’s vibrant urban community.

Beyond simply a space for growing food and flowers, the Church’s rooftop garden will engage Church members in gardening activities, connect with the neighborhood through a new aesthetic presence, and engaging the broader community around fresh produce and food products. Through these activities, the rooftop garden will educate youth, build tangible community connections, and inspire new thinking about the Church’s impact in downtown Raleigh and along the Raleigh Food Corridor.

With the garden concept and report in hand, the Church has put the roof garden project on hold as it continues to weigh the feasibility and impact of the project.