This article advances the concept of the agroecological “lighthouse” as a civic space for learning and participating in the principles and practices of urban food production. As urbanization threatens to encourage the increased industrialization of agriculture, growing food in cities promises to alleviate this pressure while creating new opportunities for community empowerment and greater access to sustainable, healthy, and affordable food. This kind of transition, I argue, will demand social relations that bridge science, practice, and movement—and that cut in surprising ways across traditional boundaries between university and community. Drawing from a recent experience in an Urban Agroecology shortcourse in Berkeley, California, I illustrate what such relationships might look like, profiling the caretaker of one backyard garden in the Bay Area. This urban grower effuses what James Scott calls metis, moving fluidly across institutional boundaries, experimenting with agroecological innovations, and offering his space as a lighthouse commons for participatory learning. Interestingly, he is not a PhD, but a retired postal worker. With the stakes mounting for progress in food security across the urban-rural divide, the agroecological lighthouse opens up potential for new researcher-farmer partnerships as well as a means for expanding what we consider legitimate knowledge-making communities. Advancing the notion of a “lighthouse extension model,” I challenge the discourse of mainstream cooperative extension, arguing that a more egalitarian food system will likely emerge from participation by those traditionally excluded from shaping it.

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