Agricultural City

BUILDING THE AGRICULTURAL CITY is a book, a film-in-progress and a vision of rural renewal. The book and film are  tools to promote the idea of cooperative regional development.

To learn about the book, click here:


To watch a segment of the film,  click here.

What is It?
Building the Agricultural City is an informal collaboration among individuals and organizations that are helping to create a self-reliant and sustainable economy and culture in the Driftless region. These individuals and organizations may not realize that they are helping to create such an economy. They did not establish their business or farm with that in mind. Nevertheless, their work contributes to that end.

An Agricultural City is a vision of neighboring towns and cities that work cooperatively for economic and cultural development. Some rural regions have enough clusters of towns to create multiple Agricultural Cities. Coordination between Agricultural Cities within a region have the potential to create a regional economy and culture that would function as an ark—a cooperative network of farms, businesses, industries, towns and cities that will help us survive our turbulent times—times that almost certainly will become more difficult.

What do the Collaborators Do?
One. A collaborator will lend its name in support of the vision of a self-reliant and sustainable regional economy. The fact that a collaborator lends its name to the concept strengthens the vision. The more collaborators that endorse the vision, the more likely the public will be aware of our need to become self-reliant.

Two. In order to promote the vision, the collaborators will need to spread the idea through radio and television interviews, newspaper opinion pieces, films and broadsides, a presence at local fairs, etc.

The growth of the number of collaborators across the Driftless will make collaborators aware of each other’s existence. Those with common needs (say organic farmers decide they need a mill) may decide to create a cooperative.

Growth is Organic, Not Planned
First, there is no need for more than a minimal organization to push the vision forward. In fact, a heavily formalized organization would be counter-productive, depressing creativity with bureaucracy. Second, the process should not have a master plan; instead, it needs to grow out of the informal relationships of collaborators and their shared needs. This should be a process whose outcomes grow as we learn more about our needs and capabilities.

A Project in Process
For the last four months, community leaders in Decorah, Elkader,, Guttenberg, and Strawberry Point, Iowa have been gathering to discuss projects to increase northeast Iowa’s self-sufficiency. These include municipal owned utilities, community development banks, micro-lending circles, and worker owned cooperatives.

Learn more on FACEBOOK: “Building the Agricultural City”