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CHAPTER 5 Cultivating in Cascadia Urban-Agriculture Policy and Practice in Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver nathan mcclintock and michael simpson introduction For decades, proponents of “Cascadia” have called for an independent political entity that would incorporate the US Pacific Northwest states of Oregon and Washington and the Canadian West Coast province of British Columbia. While political secession remains largely a fantasy, there are nevertheless aspects of a shared history and geography that have informed a regional identity. The Cascade Range and its lush forests of Douglas firs unify the physical geography across all three jurisdictions. A common history of Euro-American colonization a century and a half ago and a subsequent economy centered on forestry and resource extraction have also contributed to the region’s unity. Much more recently, the values of environmental sustainability and livability have added a new dimension to this common identity. Urban agriculture figures prominently in Cascadia’s cityscapes. It serves as part of a shared cultural identity for many residents and is embraced by 60 regulation local governments in Cascadia’s three major cities, Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver. While its contribution to local food supplies is modest (and incredibly difficult to quantify), urban agriculture nevertheless figures centrally in regional visions of a sustainable food system. The goal of this chapter is to examine urban agriculture’s similarities and differences in these three cities in Cascadia, with particular attention to the role of planning, policy, and municipal support. Although our primary focus is on how urban agriculture is practiced, we begin with a brief overview of official urban-agriculture policy and programs in the three cities that draws from municipal policy documents as well as interviews with practitioners and policy makers conducted between October 2012 and May 2013. We then present the results of a 2013 survey of businesses and organizations that practice urban agriculture in Cascadia’s three major cities. These findings offer a glimpse of the landscape and character of urban agriculture as it is practiced on the ground today. The region’s three major metropolitan centers—Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver—all wear this mantle of sustainability with pride. All have topped various sustainability and livability rankings over the past decade, garnering worldwide attention and accolades for their advances in green infrastructure, from light rail and bike lanes to green buildings and gray-water recycling. The region’s reputation as a mecca of livability, however, has translated into a steep rise in the cost of living in all three cities. Median home values in Vancouver are higher than anywhere else in North America, and Seattle’s are not that far behind. Although property values in Portland are not as elevated as in these other two cities, they still remain high relative to household income, in part because of the city’s urban growth boundary and emphasis on increasing density in the urban core. Of course, for every commonality that the region shares, there are at least as many differences. Different economies, changing demographics, separate regulatory frameworks, unique social histories, and an international border have together shaped Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver into quite distinct cities, belying the notion of regional uniformity. For instance, while all three municipalities have similar populations, the population of the Seattle metropolitan area is significantly larger than that of either Portland or Vancouver (see table 3). Vancouver, while smaller than Seattle, is Canada’s third-largest city and therefore plays a more important role nationally; home to the country’s largest Table 3. Demographic and socioeconomic indicators Indicator Portland Seattle Vancouver Populationa 583,776 (2010) 594,687 (2014) 610,298 (2010) 624,681 (2014) 603,502 (2011) 635,660 (2014) Population densitya 4,457 / sq mi 7,441 / sq mi 13,590 / sq mi Metro populationa 2.23M (2010) 2.31M (2014) 3.45M (2010) 3.61M (2014) 2.37M (2011) 2.47M (2014) Median home valueb USD $284,900 USD $433,800 CAD $752,016 Median household incomeb USD $52,657 USD $65,277 CAD $68,970 Population in poverty (%)b 12.0 7.2 20.8c White (%)b 72.0 66.7 46.7 Black (%)b 6.1 7.2 1.0 Latino (%)b 9.4 6.4 1.6 Asian (%)b 7.4 14.0 47.1 Native American / First Nations (%)b 0.6 0.5 2.0 Other (%)b 0.7 0.7 1.7 Multiracial (%)b 3.7 4.6 1.5 a 2014 population estimates from American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates (2010–2014) and...


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