Rachel Hill

Tejido Scholarship Application

November  2008



As contemporary western life becomes more segmented, separated and specialized, the relationship people nurture with agriculture falls into a grey area between life sustaining (our survival depends upon it) and preservation (its survival depends upon us).  Different places harbor different relationships with productive landscapes although all places require that they exist.  The thesis addresses towns or cities that aim to re-link and reinforce their community with the productive landscapes that support them.

The thesis will create a method that will help agricultural towns or cities reinforce or maintain their vitality as a productive landscape in the face of growth pressures coming either from their core or into their region from somewhere else (ex: tourism).  The study is based upon understanding the relationship a community has with productive landscapes as seen primarily in the spatial relationships created and observed between people, their habitation, their environment, and food production. 

The thesis examines cases where productive landscapes are valued as an integral component of the functioning of the system.  For this reason the community has (intentionally or unknowingly) designed these landscapes into their cities.  Learning from their successes and obstacles, the research develops a method for designing productive landscapes into urban life.  It may or may not change land-use (turn industrial lands into farm land, for example) but it focuses upon reinforcing and designing within the context of maintaining/strengthening a communities ties to the production that sustains it (historically, economically and culturally).   

The successful elements gleaned from the case studies are patterned into the proposed strategy.  They can be tailored to the specific cultural and environmental relationship between people and agriculture.  To assess the validity of the strategy, I will apply it to a small agricultural Arizona town.  The result is a landscape design which addresses the widening gap between production and place and focuses on the reintegration of production into and around urban areas in an environmentally sound manner that ties people consciously and physically to elements of their sustenance.   

This work is integral in laying the foundation for Fulbright Scholarship work I hope to begin in 2009.  My proposed Fulbright studies a small, agricultural Croatian island called Vis that is experiencing heavy growth and tourism pressure that threatens to degrade its deep agricultural heritage and livelihood.  My proposed study builds upon the United Nations COAST project in Croatia which is currently creating a coastal master plan.  The method developed through the thesis is aimed at creating design strategies to help Vis islanders maintain their heritage and production while mediate and participate in the inevitable change and growth.