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The Food Oriented Development … it’s an FOD!

Zealyst event at CityLab7's mushroom farm storefront

I’m pretty fired up about this concept. Perhaps I didn’t officially coin the phrase, but I’m certainly trying to bring it into practice. Much like its more common cousin, the TOD (transit oriented development), it’s fairly self-explanatory. At the moment, however, I’m thinking most specifically about an urban site development rather than a complete neighborhood. An FOD is all about density, with food as the central focus. On some levels it’s simply mixed-use development with a theme. But an FOD adds food industry—production, processing, storage, composting—to the usual combinations of residential, office and retail.

Parts of this concept pop up all the time. Take the images here, for example. My friend Chris was part of a group that launched a short-term demonstration called the Mushroom Farm. They partnered with renowned architecture firm Olson Kundig, which rotates thematic installations through its Pioneer Square storefront.  The Mushroom Farm showcased the industrial ecology nexus of spent coffee grounds and mushroom spores. Create the right conditions and voila, tasty oyster mushrooms grow right out of a bag. But the installation was much more than mushrooms and coffee. The team curated lunches, dinners and events to explore related conversations and celebrate the community that showed up.


Also in Seattle, Melrose Market does a nice job of co-locating food businesses. It’s mostly service and retail, although the butcher certainly provides some processing flair.

Another key to an FOD is that green building strategies are extended to tenants’ operations in a very intentional and food-specific ways. And I think these efficiencies—be it electrons or ingredients, water or waste—can equate to real performance for  food businesses, thus making an FOD attractive on many levels.

Layering these types of activities, efficiencies and community benefits across many businesses on one site is an FOD. I can get all scientific and nerdy about the systems-based design aspects, environmental benefits and educational potential, but it still boils down to dynamic and vibrant placemaking. I think the FOD is yet another evolution in connecting people to their food and community.

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