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Missouri bill would create incentives to grow urban farming

Missouri Sen. Jason Holsman, A Kansas Democrat, sponsored a bill that aims to turn abandoned properties into urban farms.

If the governor signs the legislation, Holsman hopes Kansas City can be at the forefront of a national movement toward more locally grown foods.

By Jason Hancock
Kansas City Star
June 24, 2013


JEFFERSON CITY — There is no shortage of vacant lots and empty buildings in Kansas City’s urban core. For Jason Holsman, the abandoned properties look like fertile ground.

Over the last three years, the Democratic state senator from Kansas City has championed legislation that would put those properties back to use, although probably not in a way most city dwellers envision.

He wants them to become farms.

“We have buildings that have had no economic activity in them for, in some cases, years,” Holsman said. “At the same time, we spend millions of dollars importing food from around the country and the world. Instead of importing food, why not spend that money investing in our own communities to create jobs in areas that desperately need them?”

Legislation sitting on Gov. Jay Nixon’s desk aims to spur growth in urban farming. However, Holsman’s bill isn’t trying to re-create the types of massive farms most are familiar with. He foresees companies using recent advances in technology to transform small parcels, and even abandoned warehouses, into more ecologically friendly farming operations.

“You could literally take a five-story building that is sitting vacant in the West Bottoms, and each floor could grow a different seasonal produce,” he said. “Then you process it on site and sell it in a market on the bottom floor. There’s no transportation costs, no pesticides, no preservatives, and you can grow year-round. Imagine the amount of jobs created at a center like this.”

Read the complete article here.