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Category — Planning

Across the US, Cities Struggle to Figure Out How to Accommodate Urban Farming

Sacramento has its share of farmer’s markets, but there are no urban farms within the city limits. Photo by Robert Couse-Bake.

Widespread interest in urban agriculture is forcing local authorities to re-examine rules that prohibit farming in cities

By Sena Christian
Earth Island Journal
October 2, 2014


Sure, nearly 1.4 million acres of farmland exist around the city, which is located in California’s vast and fertile Central Valley region, and the climate is amenable to growing produce year-round (drought complications notwithstanding). But there are no urban farms in Sacramento. The closest and most prominent urban farm, the 55-acre Soil Born Farms, exists outside the city limits.

Sacramento is relatively progressive when it comes to gardening: The city already allows frontyard vegetable gardens, urban chickens, and community gardens on private land and runs 13 community gardens on public land. But farming – that is, growing crops to sell – has fallen behind.

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October 12, 2014   No Comments

Urban Farms Disappearing in the Goleta Valley


Environmental benefits provided by urban agriculture include decreased resource consumption and consequently, less waste.

Environmental Defense Center
Sept 24, 2014


This report focuses on the importance of protecting the few remaining parcels of agriculture within the urban boundaries of the Eastern Goleta Valley. “There are benefits to urban agriculture being located adjacent to homes, schools, transportation centers, etc. (e.g. local job creation, reducing the heat island effect, reductions in storm water runoff, and the health benefits of having fresh locally grown food available).

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October 2, 2014   Comments Off

How One Of Washington D.C.’s Worst Heroin Markets Became A Sustainable Food Source


A 100-square-meter plot in a 130-day temperate growing season “can provide most of a four-person household’s total yearly vegetable needs, including much of the household’s nutritional requirements for vitamins A, C, and B complex and iron.”

By Jeff Spross
Think Progress
September 18, 2014


Thirteen years ago, Marvin Gaye Park was a mess.
The park sits in Lincoln Heights, a neighborhood in Washington, D.C.’s Ward 7, just east of the Anacostia River. The community is overwhelmingly poor and non-white, and suffers some of the worst rates of crime, unemployment and social breakdown in the city. The park itself had succumbed to disuse. One of the worst PCP and heroin markets in the city had cropped up nearby.

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September 22, 2014   Comments Off

In Salisbury, North Carolina farming will return to the urban core

roadLivingstone College hopes to develop an urban farm on this acreage, which lies off Locke Street on the right. Photo by Mark Wineka.

In the light-industrial areas, urban farms would be limited to wholesale crop production and animal production, which could include slaughter within a fully enclosed facility.

By Mark Wineka
Salisbury Post
September 4, 2014


Salisbury City Council approved Tuesday a text amendment to the city’s Land Development Ordinance which will allow urban farms and pave the way for Livingstone College to revive a former farming operation on 40 acres stretching from the area of Brenner Avenue, Milford Hills Road and Locke Street.

The college already has cleared significant portions of the land where its urban farm will operate in support of Livingstone’s culinary program.

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September 14, 2014   Comments Off

Urban farming fuss: Dearborn, Michigan project exposes challenges of growing local

Maureen McIlrath and Andrew Gertz both of Dearborn, tour the Crowley Park Sustainable Farm in their neighborhood on July 24, 2014. McIlrath runs the farm, which has endured funding and volunteer problems, and Gertz is one of her more respectful Facebook critics. Photo by Robert Allen/Detroit Free Press.

Because of problems setting up a reliable water source this season, she wasn’t able to rent out plots behind the fencing as she had previously.

By Robert Allen
Detroit Free Press
Sept 1, 2014


“You really have to know what you’re doing or have a support network in order to be successful,” she said, adding that “you really have to have the support of the people around you, most importantly the neighbors.”

McIlrath said people have thrown dog feces over the fence. Some have cut the fence and sneaked in. She works as an insurance agent and said that the attacks have even stretched to e-mails deriding her to professional contacts — and she’s about to take legal action against a few of them.

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September 10, 2014   Comments Off

Integrating Urban Farms into the Social Landscape of Cities


Recommendations for Strengthening the Relationship Between Urban Farms and Local Communities

By Melissa N. Poulsen, MPH & Marie L. Spiker, MSPH, RD Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
With illustrations by Alex Winch July 2014
44 pages
(Must read. Mike)

Executive Summary:

In cities across the U.S., urban farming is gaining traction as a way of productively using degraded vacant land while increasing access to fresh produce within cities. As urban farming continues to be promoted by municipal governments and others, it is important to understand how to ensure these projects are viable. One consideration for urban farms located in populated areas of a city is the reaction of residents who live in neighborhoods surrounding farms. Urban farms differ from urban gardens in their emphasis on income-generating agricultural activity. As such, they can challenge traditional images residents might have for how land is used in city neighborhoods. Urban farming projects are most likely to survive and thrive if they have local support, but how can these projects gain community buy-in? Through interviews with urban farmers, neighborhood leaders, community residents, and other key stakeholders in Baltimore City, we sought to understand the processes that are most effective for gaining the acceptance of city residents for urban farming.

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September 7, 2014   Comments Off

On The Pitfalls Of Urban Food Production


The desire to make urban agricultural a viable commercial reality distracts from more serious issues such as international trade barriers and counterproductive domestic agricultural subsidies.

By Pierre Desrochers
New Geography
Pierre Desrochers Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Toronto and co-author of The Locavore’s Dilemma. In Praise of the 10,000-mile Diet, PublicAffairs, 2012.
(Must read. Mike)


Pitfall #1: Urban land is too valuable to be devoted profitably to food production

Pitfall #2: The productions costs of vertical farming are prohibitive

Pitfall #3: Undervaluing wholesalers and retailers

Pitfall #4: An urban location does not keep agricultural pests at bay

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September 7, 2014   Comments Off

Urban Farming Is ‘Not’ Making San Francisco’s Housing Crisis Worse


Community agriculture can improve vacant lots—and it won’t stop anyone from building housing.

By Eli Zigas
City Lab
Sep 4, 2014


The law does not discourage anyone who wants to build from building. Instead, San Francisco’s urban-agriculture incentive zone program targets land that is unlikely to be developed in the near future. This includes sites that are oddly shaped, not well-suited for development, or where the owner (for personal or business reasons) does not intend to put up a building anytime soon. If a property owner wants to build housing or an office building on their vacant lot, they’ll make far more money developing the land then they would from the property tax savings they would receive for committing it to urban agricultural use for five years.

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September 5, 2014   Comments Off

How Urban Farming Is Making San Francisco’s Housing Crisis Worse


Turning vacant lots into vegetable patches makes no sense for a city with soaring rent.

By Conor Friedersdorf
The Atlantic
Sept. 3 2014


If Roland wants to hold an empty lot amid a real-estate boom and housing crisis, all to preserve the hypothetical ability of his children to build a future house, that’s his right. He owns the land, after all. But subsidizing this choice is nutty. Talk of urban gardens has aesthetic appeal to the typical San Franciscan, who associates it with community gardening, “locavore” dining, and sustainability. Those things are appealing to me too, but sound environmental policy calls for adding density to urban cores, not changing land-use restrictions to discourage building. And sound economics counsels abandoning this subsidy entirely.

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September 4, 2014   Comments Off

San Francisco property owners to get tax break from creating urban farms

Kevin Bayuk, a teacher at the Urban Permaculture Institute, tends a new bed at the 18th and Rhode Island Garden. Photo by Leah Millis, The Chronicle.

Starting Sept. 8, owners of empty lots could save thousands of dollars a year in property taxes in exchange for allowing their land to be used for agriculture for five years or more.

By Tara Duggan
SF Gate
August 31, 2014


“I have heard from literally hundreds of residents who would like to have the opportunity to farm, but the waiting lists for a lot of our community gardens are over two years long,” said Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, who wrote the local legislation. “There is simply not enough space.”

This law could change that.

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September 2, 2014   Comments Off

“Urban farms key to hunger” says keynote speaker at 29th International Horticultural Congress

Julian Cribb, the former CSIRO scientist and author of the books, Poisoned Planet and The Coming Famine, shared his thoughts at the 29th International Horticultural Congress (IHC) in Brisbane.

4000 delegates from more than 100 countries, the largest horticulture gathering in Australia this year, heard the message

By Ashley Walmsley
The Land
19 Aug, 2014


“The city itself is poised to change. Green cities alive with vegetation, fresh food, birds and insects will replace the polluted, soulless, concrete and glass urbanscapes of today,” he said.

Giant floating greenhouses and translucent vertical urban farms were just two ideas touted by Mr Cribb. He said by 2050, urban horticulture and farming could provide half the world’s food.

“They will ensure a highly diverse, local food supply that never fails,” Mr Cribb said.

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August 19, 2014   Comments Off

Outrage as CP Rail begins clearing gardens, structures, along the Arbutus Corridor in Vancouver BC

Global News.

“They are shocked and heartbroken by what has happened, with some shouting “shame, shame” at operators who came to clear the gardens and trees.

By Matthew Robinson
Vancouver Sun
August 14, 2014


VANCOUVER – Gerry Oldman had half an hour Thursday morning to salvage as many vegetables as he could from a community garden he tended along the Arbutus Corridor before work crews hired by Canadian Pacific moved in and tore up his plants and raised beds.

The rail company had warned residents along the track weeks ago that it was restarting operations on the line and gave them until Aug. 1 to remove their property from its land before it would be removed for them.

The company made good on the threat two weeks after the deadline when a trackhoe and backhoe operated by A & B Rail Services Ltd. laid waste to about 150 metres of community gardens located south of Southwest Marine Drive.

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August 15, 2014   Comments Off

Report predicts value of London’s edible gardens at £1.4 million – and counting


“We know that London can’t feed itself but the aim of this initiative was to see just how much food we can grow…”

Capital Growth
A Sustain Publication
July 2014

London’s food growing gardens and urban farms are producing food worth at least £1.4 million per year, according to a new report published today by Capital Growth, London’s food growing network. Using data collected by a sample of 160 food growing spaces located in community gardens, schools, allotments, parks and farms across the capital, the report shows how veg patches all over London are putting fresh, seasonal and ultra-local food on thousands (and potentially millions) of plates.

The weights of community-grown fruit, vegetables, honey and eggs were recorded by members of the Capital Growth food growing network, which has over 2,000 registered spaces, many based in low-income areas of London. “We know that London can’t feed itself but the aim of this initiative was to see just how much food we can grow, and we have been able to use our innovative online Harvest-ometer tool to record the harvest of a wide range of different growing spaces,” explained Sarah Williams from Capital Growth. “The response has been extremely positive, with about one tenth of our member spaces clocking up over £150,000 of produce during the course of a year, and contributing portions of healthy fruit and veg to over a quarter-of-a-million meals”

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August 13, 2014   Comments Off

Urban agriculture: a global analysis of the space constraint to meet urban vegetable demand

Figure 1. PAN a (Percentage of urban Area Needed) to meet the actual consumption of vegetables by urban dwellers through UA (target A). Click on image for larger file.

UA should also be actively promoted in smaller cities, rather than focussing exclusively on large cities, because smaller urban areas actually comprise the majority of the total urban area.

By F Martellozzo1, J-S Landry1, D Plouffe1, V Seufert1, P Rowhani and N Ramankutty1
Environmental Research Letters Volume 9 Number 6
Published 18 June 2014


Urban agriculture (UA) has been drawing a lot of attention recently for several reasons: the majority of the world population has shifted from living in rural to urban areas; the environmental impact of agriculture is a matter of rising concern; and food insecurity, especially the accessibility of food, remains a major challenge. UA has often been proposed as a solution to some of these issues, for example by producing food in places where population density is highest, reducing transportation costs, connecting people directly to food systems and using urban areas efficiently. However, to date no study has examined how much food could actually be produced in urban areas at the global scale.

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August 5, 2014   Comments Off

Detroit’s secret weapon against food insecurity


If other cities experience an economic collapse similar to Detroit’s, the nationwide urban farming infrastructure may grow yet further.

By Ned Resnikoff

There’s still quite a bit of hunger in Detroit, and urban agriculture alone probably won’t relieve it. So far, the produce coming from the city’s urban gardens has done more to supplement other food sources than replace them.

Gleaners Community Food Bank has even started its own community garden, producing between 20,000 and 30,000 pounds of fresh produce per year, but Brisson says he doesn’t expect those efforts to measurably bring down hunger in Detroit.

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August 1, 2014   Comments Off