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Mayor Menino Announces Zoning Changes to Allow Urban Farming Pilot in Dorchester, Boston

Pilot program opens door to urban agriculture in Boston, making two vacant city-owned parcels available for farming

Mayor’s Press Office
November 16, 2011

Mayor Thomas M. Menino today announced the adoption of a progressive text and map amendment to the city’s zoning code, which passed unanimously at the Zoning Board Association meeting this morning. The amendment will allow the city to move forward with an Urban Agriculture Pilot project, making use of two vacant city owned parcels in Dorchester at 23-29 Tucker Street and 131 Glenway Street. The updated zoning code will allow the land be farmed to provide fresh and healthy food for sale to local residents and businesses.

“Boston is at the forefront of the urban agriculture movement and with this zoning amendment we are taking a proactive approach that will allow us to further explore the benefits of urban farming,” Mayor Thomas M. Menino said. “This project is an opportunity to take underutilized city land and put it to productive use. Community gardening brings neighbors together and it creates a new way to get healthy, fresh fruits and vegetables into neighborhood stores and kitchens.”

In 2010, Mayor Menino launched the Urban Agriculture Initiative to increase access to affordable and healthy food, particularly for underserved communities. At the time, the zoning code did not allow for urban farming as an acceptable land use on these parcels. To support the development of the Pilot Urban Agriculture Project, the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) explored ways to amend the zoning code. Through a series of public meetings, staff from the BRA, Neighborhood Development, and Mayor Menino’s food initiatives team worked with the community and residents to ensure that the zoning amendments would be appropriate for the area and support the desired farming and gardening activities. Throughout the development of the project, the team has also worked to establish a set of best practices for urban farming, making Boston one of the nation’s leading cities in expanding urban agriculture initiatives.

The zoning amendment establishes an Urban Agriculture Overlay District within the Greater Mattapan Neighborhood District, which will improve public health and environmental sustainability and promote economic development by supporting the local production of fresh food. Use of the land will be limited to the cultivation of plants, herbs, fruits, flowers, and vegetables and composting of materials produced on the site.
The Urban Agriculture Initiative is part of Mayor Menino’s overall food agenda and mission to increase access to affordable and healthy food. By bringing farming into the community, the program aims to increase education and knowledge around healthy eating and food production, particularly among youth; and promote economic opportunity by increasing partnerships with, and/or between, local and regional food producers, and increase healthy food supplies to local schools, organizations, institutions and corner stores.

In July 2011 the city issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Pilot Urban Agriculture Project, to put several vacant Department of Neighborhood owned properties in Dorchester to productive use for farming. Initially, each property will be leased based on a rate of $500 per acre, which based on lot sizes, will be roughly $125 to $200 per year for a term of five years. The term may be extended if farming is successful.

See press release here.

Also see “Dorchester one step closer” here.

1 comment

1 mich { 11.20.11 at 6:33 pm }

Wow, I find this intresting. There is a vacant parcel of land that myself and neighborhood children have been gardening on since 2004. Mayor Menino has been out to see our efforts in the past as well.
While cleaning up nearly an acre of this land in June 2010, I was escorted off by BPD at the request of Francis Nolan; a BRA employee. During at which time I was sexually harrassed and a NO TRESPASSING sign was place on the vacant lot. There are several vacant lots, but the one I was cultivating and cleaning is the ONLY one to receive this signage. Wierd huh?