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The Extended Agropolis: Diversified Urban Agriculture in Morelos, Mexico

Erin Yook

The series of earthquakes in 2017 serve as an opportunity to highlight and legitimize alternative forms of urbanization that emerge outside of large cities. Morelos is situated within the Central Valley of Mexico—characterized by a dense patchwork of urban networks. The agglomeration and expansion of urban areas in this region has facilitated the rapid development of rural industrialization, in which growth has largely taken place on agricultural lands. Morelos has thus experienced a polarization of its territory, particularly within the Cuernavaca-Cuautla corridor. This region has quickly undergone accelerated urbanization with consequences to local crop patterns and an intense dispute over hydric resources transferred from agricultural irrigation to urban supply. Moreover, a significant portion of Morelos was previously reserved as collective property in the form of ejido land, and since the land reform of 1992, has undergone substantial reterritorializations prompted by agricultural enclosure and natural disaster.

This project proposes to mediate the urban-rural linkages formed through urbanization patterns created through constant migration and reterritorialization. This proposal’s ambitions extend beyond what is traditionally known as “urban agriculture” by proposing the cultivation of crops at various scales of urban form—within urban, suburban, and peri-urban areas. This project serves as a prototype that is applicable to medium-sized cities in Mexico, with an emphasis on peri-urban areas that will always be present through processes of urbanization. Medium-sized cities will serve as the ideal sites for this project’s implementation because of they contain a considerable peri-urban area which offers the most promising outcome of this proposal. By locating urban agriculture around cities, producers will have a market to feed. In addition, this project deploys the strategy of “pluriactivity” in which land use and income are characterized by multiple identities and flexibility. For example, peri-urban agriculture can fulfill productive, educational, recreational, and environmentally protective roles for the city. By integrating agriculture at multiple scales of urban living, especially in peri-urban areas, migrants are not forced to abandon their familiar means of livelihood.