Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Mall Farming...

So, how many revisions to the typical municipal zoning code would likely be required to allow this to happen:

Shopping malls may be on the brink of major reinvention and adaptive reuse…as farms. The Galleria Mall in Cleveland, Ohio is leading the way by growing organic food for mall patrons and local restaurants. The mall has transformed the lost retail space within its glass-top confines into a gigantic, organic-food greenhouse.

The idea sprouted when the mall’s marketing and events coordinator Vicky Poole teamed up with Jack Hamilton, a business owner in the Galleria. Together they began operating Gardens Under Glass, a hydroponic garden in the Galleria at Erieview in downtown Cleveland. The project is funded by a $30,000 start-up grant from the Civic Innovation Lab. Gardens Under Glass at the Galleria will start with lettuce, spinach, peas, tomatoes, and herbs, and, if successful, add fruits, more vegetables and edible flowers.

Food will be raised hydroponically, aquaponically and in organic soils through a combination of raised beds, vines and vertical structural supports. The plan also includes composting and using nutrient-rich waste from aquariums to nourish the plants. The duo hopes that the project will be a model for sustainable farming, while bringing additional visitors or curious onlookers to the mall’s stores. If successful and implemented at the mall on a larger scale, Gardens Under Glass could help extend Ohio’s short growing season and increase the amount of food dollars spent locally.

We have one of these dead malls here in Montgomery that nobody can really develop a plan for adaptively reusing. Maybe instead of complex renovation schemes, we should be looking at indoor farming.  An interesting idea.

One, though, that would likely run counter to the wide variety of agriculture limitations and restrictions sprinkled and sprouted throughout most zoning codes.

--Chad Emerson, Faulkner U.

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/land_use/2010/06/mall-farming.html

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