Fruit Futures Initiative Gary

LOCATION: Gary, Indiana, USA

SUMMARY: Fruit Futures (FFIG) re-imagines post-urban Gary IN, with multipurpose plantings of fruiting trees. As a critical alternative to sustainable (re)development, cooperative landscapes link the region’s geography to the biochemistry of fruit, engaging citizen scientists to reboot soil, study microclimate, and explore favorite and forgotten small fruits towards resilient cultural futures.

PROBLEM SPACE: “Fundamental rethinking is required when shifting population and settlement patterns leave urban land degraded, abandoned, but not fully undeveloped. The post-industrial cities of the Great Lakes share this condition with other cities worldwide, and anticipate potential future sites such as those in the American southwest, as water depletion produces eco-migration back to the Great Lakes.

The conventional development mindset and economy is not inclined to address un-development the need to literally re-vitalize by reinstating situated ecological systems. This is further complicated when our view of place is prescribed by an economic or cultural paradigm which is no longer viable.

FFIG brings this thinking to Gary, whose economic history and subsequent cultural identity as an industrial center have obscured an important aspect of its prime location: Gary has the same soils and microclimate as the famous Michigan fruit belt just to the east. In spite of a growing interest in local food, conversations about urban agriculture are focused primarily on raised bed vegetable growing, not fruit or native soils. Seen in this context the vast available land in Gary offers an opportunity to re-imagine and embrace the emerging bioregional character of this transitional place as a new center for fruit culture.”

SOLUTION: “Fruit Futures is a series of linked, civic, agri+cultural strategies that initiate a new fruit culture and economy in Gary.

The Community Lab Orchard emphasizes experiential learning and curiosity. Designed as a planted wedge representing time to fruit maturity, the Seven Year Lot embodies the future, as neighborhood fruit explorers learn innovative and traditional growing techniques for native and cultivated fruits. This hands-on fruit-growing is made explicitly expressive with food-oriented cultural programming.

Co-op orchards, (including conservation orchards of native fruits which also offer wildlife benefit) function as shared assets, alternative äóìdegrowthäó economic models. We have established The Gary Commons Land Trust to shelter FFIG parcels from future market pressures.

The Climate Corridor focuses on temperature sensitive native fruits, a linear planting transforming the streetscape into a microclimate visualization transect at bus shelter bioswales along Garyäó»s mainstreet. This floral planting links southern neighborhoods to the lakefront recreation areas and produces crucial climate data as it beautifies.

Most technical, the Remediation Arboretum, a new kind of public greenspace and demonstration landscape, investigates how fruiting trees and shrubs can revitalize urban soils. This civic research space for soil and environmental questions links community efforts and public learning as a source of civic pride.”

CONTACT: [email protected]