We are happy to announce that RDG Associate Helena Farrell was invited to the Food System Symposium at Yale University in November, an interdisciplinary conference initiated by students at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Helena presented her work developing a research method for evaluating the role and impact of urban agriculture in the sustainability of cities and food systems. The aim of the YFSS is to bring together researchers, practitioners, theorists, and eaters to answer the pragmatic question: how can we build a just, sustainable food system? Helena was among other emerging researchers, educators, and practitioners highlighted for having new ideas that push the conventional boundaries of food systems thinking by employing innovative projects, truly interdisciplinary thinking, and non-traditional collaboration.
Helena also teaches an online course in Urban Agriculture, which is part of the Sustainable Food and Farming Program in UMass, Amherst’s Stockbridge School of Agriculture. In the class Helena works with students to conduct Agroecology research using real life farms as case studies, with the goal of identifying the most relevant issues, key lessons, best practices, and next steps for improving food production and the larger food system.
We are excited that Helena was able to take a break from the design studio to convene with other researchers for the weekend symposium. Our work designing and building productive landscapes that engage people with nature, provide a range of benefits, and enhance the beauty of the landscape is significantly informed by having expertise such as this on the team. And the benefit is mutual in that, our associates provide researchers with insight and perspective about how landscapes need to function and the realities of on-the-ground implementation. As a design firm, we are proud to play a vibrant role in education. From individual mentoring to higher education, we are at the forefront of the ecological knowledge and skill-building that underlies our transition from unsustainable, inequitable landscapes and infrastructures, to well-designed, intelligently constructed, regenerative communities.