Grounds for Change: Activating Vacant Land

Explore / Grow

Use the Grow section to explore innovative methods for planting, growing, farming, harvesting, reforesting, and building productive landscapes. This Category covers subject areas like urban agriculture, community gardening, and urban forestry. Issues addressed include food security, soil science, nutrition, and the socioeconomic importance of safe food production.

How much can one acre yield?  A city rife with vacant lots is a city ripe with potential.


Philadelphia, PA

Using neighborhood ownership of urban farms to support local businesses and food security.

The composted soil is used to construct a new ground.

Horizontal Integration

Philadelphia, PA

A public park and soil farm constructed from Delaware River dredge material.

Railroad adjacencies and large tracts of vacant land act as large event spaces and take the place of traditional “commons.”


Philadelphia, PA

Integrating biotechnology and the urban fabric.

Neighboring buildings provide structural support for a tiered performance space.

Insert Use

Philadelphia, PA

An incremental approach to reclaiming vacant lots.

Photo by Flickr user ItzaFineDay


London, AL

Classified ads for growers and landowners in the UK.

Exterior and interior of an abandoned house on LaClede Avenue, one of many left vacant thanks to Youngstown's housing surplus.

Lots of Green

Youngstown, OH

An ambitious plan to comprehensively repurpose a neighborhood's vacant properties.

Research continues into the biofuel potentials of sunflowers and other crops grown at ALMONO.

ALMONO Brownfield

Pittsburgh, PA

A former steel manufacture complex fosters experimental models in brownfield remediation and biofuel production.

Joggers enjoy the many walking paths throughout the Parc.

Parc du Sausset


A mixed-use large-scale park influenced by vernacular French landscapes.

Aerial view of Mill Race Park shows its location in downtown Columbus, Indiana.

Mill Race Park

Columbus, OH

A landscape of large views and spaces, designed to be flooded.

Grupo Desiño Urbano’s illustrative master plan identifies three main landscape zones, a mix of geometric shapes and curvilinear forms.

Xochimilco Ecological Park

Mexico City,

A large-scale ecological restoration and productive landscape inspired by Xochimilco's landscape history.

Eco Boulevard combines elements of urban forestry—saplings in the foreground—and a temporary, wind-powered community center to help revitalize this large urban thoroughfare.  (Emilio P. Doiztua & Roland Halbe)

Eco Boulevard


A temporary climate control structure and urban plaza in Madrid.

Eastwick Alleywalk proposes to rehabilitate a vacant parcel in Southwest Philadelphia as a major point of intersection in a new, enhanced network of bicycle-friendly streets.

Eastwick Alleywalk

Philadelphia, PA

Creating corridors and connecting parks and the city.

Photo by Flickr user davidgljay

Green Guerillas

New York, NY

Community gardening and activism in New York City

Photo from The-Food-Project on Flickr

The Food Project

Boston, MA

Boston-area youth education programs in urban, suburban, and rural agriculture.

Photo by Flickr user ItzaFineDay

Urban Farming

Southfield, MI

Grassroots urban agriculture organization in Detroit.

Added Value is a non-profit organization promoting the sustainable development of Red Hook by nurturing a new generation of young leaders.

Added Value

Brooklyn, NY

An organization to promote the sustainable development of Red Hook by nurturing a new generation of young leaders

Photo by Flickr user Kelowna09

Yes In My Backyard

Toronto, AL

A new landshare program for urban farmers in Toronto.

Flickr: ericrichardson

Not A Cornfield

Los Angeles, CA

Landscape and memory: an agricultural monument in Los Angeles

Growing Power's water catchment system.

Growing Power

Milwaukee, WI

A Milwaukee-based nonprofit offering training, demonstration, outreach, and technical assistance in urban agriculture.

Row houses and hoop houses coexist peacefully at Greensgrow’s Kensington location.

Greensgrow Farms

Philadelphia, PA

A nursery, farm market, and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program in Philadelphia, PA

A student team composed of Kiki Brown, Mary Huynh, and Carson Sio designed a vertical planting unit for homegrown produce.

Farm Philly

Philadelphia, PA

Student designs: new techniques for urban farming

Vacant lots before composting, and after they have been reforested and farmed.

Compost City

Philadelphia, PA

Re-using biosolids to rehabilitate Philadelphia's urban landscape

Hydroponic greenhouses include systems for cleaning waste water and re-using grey water for agricultural production.

Green for Green

Philadelphia, PA

Small-scale, low-cost solutions to stormwater management and soil degradation.

Dense planting in a suburban backyard, the result of a permablitz.

Permablitz Melbourne


Making the Australian suburbs edible, one permaculture blitz at a time.

China Creek Community Garden in Vancouver

Farm Folk/City Folk


Nonprofit society to cultivate a local, sustainable food system in British Columbia

by Flickr user pwbaker

Weaver's Way Co-op

Philadelphia, PA

A model farm and co-op in Philadelphia, with diverse yet integrated operations.

The Produce Garden will sit side-by-side with a recreation field and basketball court.


Philadelphia, PA

Taking back the backyard