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Proposal by Fritz Haeg presented at Debate London on Saturday, June 23rd, 2007, in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern in London, UK. Organized by the Architecture Foundation

Edible Estate Regional Prototype Garden #4: London - commissioned by Tate Modern, 2007 for Brookwood Housing estate.


Every night our London dinner plate becomes the venue for a sort of global Olympic event:

- representing China: SWEET POTATOES / traveling 5000 food miles

- from Egypt: GRAPES / at 2200 miles

- Ghana: PINEAPPLES / 3,100 miles

- India: BANANAS / 5,100 miles

- Mexico: AVOCADOS / 5,500 miles

- Peru: ASPARAGUS / 6,300 miles

- Saudi Arabia: TOMATOES / 3,100 miles

- South Africa: CARROTS / 6,000 miles

- Thailand: CORN / 5900 miles

- and from the United States: APPLES / 3,700 miles

Over four-fifths of London's food supply is imported from abroad, this supply is entirely dependent on the oil market (Farmers' Markets - Building Bridges between Farmers & London Shoppers-v1a. Oct03)

Agriculture accounts for 30% of products transported on British roads. (BBC Report - Food Miles)

Over the last 10 years, the distance food travels from farm to plate increased by 15%. (BBC Report - Food Miles)

And 43% of all fruits and vegetables contain detectable levels of pesticides. (Pesticide Action Network UK)

More than 600,000 Olympic related guests each day are expected in London for the 2012 summer games.

What will they eat? Food that has been grown, sprayed, packaged and shipped from each of their home countries?

I propose a new extreme summer event: Olympic Farming.

Visitors will be served fruits, vegetables and herbs grown exclusively in the host city.

Residents will grow organic food without pesticides or genetic modifications for their guests in every neighborhood across London.

Any resident will be able to nominate their front garden, or plots of unused public or private land on their street as the site of an official Olympic Farm.

To feed everyone for the Olympic Games will require over 6000 acres of densely planted gardens.

To give you a sense of how much London acreage this is:

all Royal Parks total about 4,900 acres

all office space is about 4,800 acres

and common green spaces around flats is about 4,200 acres

The soil on each site will be tested for contaminants, cleaned and prepared as necessary. This might be a good opportunity to come to terms with our toxic industrial past and the state of the land we live upon.

A city wide Olympic composting system will be established. Four years of London kitchen scraps will be transformed into the most fertile soil that the city has ever seen.

An Olympic Farming team will be recruited to represent each neighborhood. Each team will be specially trained to tend one of the thousands of farming venues across the city.

They will wear beautiful Olympic Farming uniforms that will be visible from great distances. Everyone will want to be an Olympic Farmer so they can wear the fabulous outfits that are locally customized. (speedskaters?)

Olympic sponsorship by fast food chains and soft drink companies will be rejected in favor of this system for a healthy local diet that physically connects visitors to their host.

While the Olympics celebrates the gathering of a global community, Olympic Farms will reflect the increasing value of the local.

The entire city of London will be radically transformed as empty bits of land, neglected interstitial spaces, rooftops and even parts of Royal Parks are turned into abundant productive green spaces.

All residents of London will watch as agriculture is woven back into the city and public food production becomes a dazzling spectacle.

During the games, each Olympic Farm will be open for viewing, tours and evaluation. Specially designed carts will make visible the movement of the fruits and vegetables the short distance between the host garden and the guest's table.

Neighborhood farming teams will be awarded gold, silver and bronze medals for the quality of their produce and the excellence of their gardens.

They will go on to become urban farming super-stars with offers for product endorsements and their faces splashed across the covers of all of the tabloids.

After the summer of 2012, London residents will inherit a spectacular network of urban pleasure gardens that will feed them with the seasons, instead of empty monumental shells erected for a moment of global vanity.

Every evening, the children of London (some of whom may not have even known that a tomato comes from a plant) will look at their plate of food that they watched grow down the street and even know the name of the famous Olympic Farmer that planted it.

Fritz Haeg, 2007

{with research and assistance from Matthew Au}