Using Urban Vacant Lands More Effectively


Using urban vacant lands more effectively is a significant key to being sustainable city. For example, a practice of urban food production in Chicago by the small farm started by Ken Dunn shows possibilities to enable every opportunity and every place to be utilized for all the three Es to be sustainable. This farm consists of five small parcels with a small number of employees. Even though the most visible site has only 3/4 of an acre-wide, it generates some $20,000 worth of income to sell its products to local restaurants. By utilizing organic wastes from several restaurants into composts as fertilizer and using the small parcels of land wisely, a large amount of high-quality products can be produced. The income from the products enables the farm enough to have employees, and the products produced by the farm encourage the local economy because of the farm’s community focal points. Moreover, the farm provides more opportunities to connect local people with environment through farming activities as an employee. Ken Dunn estimates there are 9,000 acres of vacant lands in City of Chicago. Why not utilize that land to make the city more sustainable?

I think degree of capacity utilization of each land greatly determines sustainability of a city. For example, in Japan, there are many “Bed-towns”, in which residents of the towns mostly utilize their town as a bed for sleep. Each entire town having huge space is not utilized effectively in daytime almost at all even though each space can be utilized for sustainable practices as I mentioned in the first paragraph of this essay through the urban food production in Chicago. These spaces in such a bed-town can be said that they are used as residential uses, but the degree of capacity utilization of them is considerably low. There is unbridgeable gap in the degree between the small farm lands in Chicago and the lands in such a bed-town. This gap is caused by how to view the space by people in each city. Probably, residents in the bed-town view their lands only as a private living space. In contrast, Ken Donn views even the small parcels of land as valuable resources that can produce values for all of three sustainable elements. Therefore, it is safe to say that the degree of capacity utilization caused by people who live there determines sustainability of their city,