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Amelia Aarestad

Ancient Echoes

Urban Farm Cooperative


This project embodies contemporary human-centered urban farm ecology based on patterns recurring through human history. These patterns are recognizable today as supporting a biophilic – “love-of-life” – response in most humans that enhances their overall wellbeing. Settings with these features can be created in a long-term living environment through the application of permaculture ethics & principles. While the term “permaculture” is also recent, the ideas to which it refers are a living synthesis of thousands of years of human supporting ecosystem knowledge, preserved & reinvented through reenactment and storytelling in the landscapes inhabited by people across time and space. Places marked by permaculture are ecosystems optimized or fabricated through imitation by human intervention to be more diverse and productive than the initial ecosystem, while requiring minimal input & minimizing risk of failure.

This theoretical project is applied to an urban location in the city of Fresno, California, U.S.A., occupying about 11 acres in a space with various challenges common to modern industrial cities. This particular site is earmarked for future use as a high-speed rail corridor. However, the concepts of this project can be carried into other difficult urban settings. This is one of the underlying flexibilities of permaculture. It always considers first the location and context, but, like a seed, it grows as true to its nature as conditions will allow. In doing so it produces conditions that elicit a biophilic response in people, supporting their health in ways that until recently had been poorly documented. In the same way people today recognize & can be inspired by re-tellings of familiar tales, even with significant adaptations, familiar methods that promoted long-lasting intensive agriculture & civilization in diverse places & times can be applied to enliven places where they are not now evident, & be joined by current technologies. The lessons & fruit of each can continue to fuel the dreams of the next generation.

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