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Category — Policy

Examining California’s Urban Farms


University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources

By Rick Paulas
November 18, 2014


Do California’s policies promote urban farming or hinder it?

Rachel: Until recently there wasn’t a lot of state level policies that promoted urban farming. But we do see more of that. For example, last fall the Governor signed AD-551, which is the Urban Agriculture Incentive Zone Act. That’s a new law that allows private landowners to get a tax break if they lease their land for urban ag. Another example is, one area of confusion for urban farmers, particularly if they’re trying to sell to a restaurant, is you have to be what’s called an “approved source” per the California retail food code. Trying to figure out how to become an “approved source” is very confusing, it’s sort of different for every county, it’s this gray area of regulation. But the state is now dealing with that with a new law that clarifies things.

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November 27, 2014   No Comments

Backyard farming interest grows in Sparks, Nevada


Sparks council will examine issue during city code overhaul next year

By Jen Simmons
Sparks Tribune
Nov 7, 2014


“Would you want to live next to a neighbor who is raising chickens?” Mayberry asked. “That’s the question for many residents. I suspect the feathers, the noise, the discharge from chickens is not real sanitary. It’s the city’s job to do what it can to protect the integrity of the neighborhood and eliminate the nuisance. But if residents want to raise chickens, depending on where they live, they are free to contact their council member or the mayor.”

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November 18, 2014   No Comments

10-year National Pollinator Strategy in England: New measures to protect pollinators


The government has made an agreement with landowners including Network Rail and the Highways Agency to restore bee-friendly habitat throughout England.

By Victoria Gill
Science reporter, BBC News
Nov 3, 2014


To make space across an increasingly urban landscape for insects, the government has secured commitments from landowners including Network Rail and the Highways Agency, which has agreed to undertake work to “enhance the grassland” on its verges.

Mr Shardlow pointed out that these pollinator-friendly urban spaces were vital and he encouraged the public to help.

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November 4, 2014   Comments Off

First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House Annual Fall Harvest

The First Lady joined school children and chefs for the annual fall harvest of the White House Kitchen Garden.

By Stacy A. Anderson
Associated Press
Oct 14, 2014

Michelle Obama isn’t afraid of a little dirt.

The first lady, clad in dirt-stained black pants and sneakers, was joined by schoolchildren Tuesday to harvest lettuce, bell peppers, sweet potatoes and tomatoes in the White House Kitchen Garden.

The children from Arizona, California, Ohio and the District of Columbia attend schools that have school gardens, teach nutrition education or have “farm to table” programs that use local food in school meals.

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November 2, 2014   Comments Off

Sacramento food activists push for urban farms

The interest in urban farming is outpacing the evolution of local zoning laws

By Edward Ortize
Sacramento Bee


Residents of this unincorporated area of Oak Park have few choices for buying fresh or locally sourced food. “Most of the people in this community are served for their food needs by corner stores,” said Yisrael. “And now you can buy fast food with food stamps.”

The neighborhood is also dotted with 40 vacant lots. Yisrael views them as potential mini-farms that could supply produce to the surrounding residents.

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November 1, 2014   Comments Off

European Research Media Centre looks at urban agriculture

London Sheep being driven down Strand about to cross Waterloo Bridge, circa 1926. Click on image for larger file.

In the future, policy makers must be aware that urban agriculture is worth the effort of creating new policies and it can be a viable option.

By Thijs Westerbeek
European Research Media Centre
Oct 23


“The goal of the Supurbfood project,” Han Wiskerke tells, “is to make urban and peri-urban agriculture much more important than it is now.” Wiskerke is the coordinator of the project and a professor of rural sociology at Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands. He goes on to explain that the project also aims to close the food-waste cycle, to shorten the food supply chains, and to create multifunctional land use in cities.

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October 29, 2014   Comments Off

Oakland plowing a path for urban farming on vacant lots

Lisa Hermanson waters plants at Farmscape, on a lot at the old West Oakland train depot. Photo by Liz Hafalia / The Chronicle.

Property owners who want to temporarily turn their land over to urban gardeners can contact the Oakland Food Policy Council for assistance

By Carolyn Jones
SF Gate
October 20, 2014


After four years of planning, the city is poised to eliminate bureaucratic roadblocks for urban gardeners, making it easier for residents to turn the city’s 3,000 vacant lots into fields of arugula and marigolds.

“We can’t feed everyone by doing this, but it’s a start,” said Lara Hermanson, owner of Farmscape, an urban gardening and landscaping company in Oakland. “This will really give a leg up for nonprofits, businesses and people who just want to grow their own food.”

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October 27, 2014   Comments Off

Detroit couple’s farm animals seized

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player
The couple and police have conflicting stories. But one thing is clear: it’s against the law to have chickens and goats at a home in Detroit.

Distraught Owner Of Goats, Chickens: ‘Detroit Police Pleaded With Animal Control, Ordered To Seize Family Pets’

Oct 23, 2014


Wednesday morning, officers from the City of Detroit seized goats and chickens from a couple’s home on Detroit’s west side. The couple purchased their home in a Detroit neighborhood near Brightmoor for only $2,000 in May. The home is located across the street from a 14,000-acre park by the Rouge River. The low price is common for properties in the area because it is now so neglected that some of it is returning back to nature. David and Sky Brown said that they have no neighbors living nearby.

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October 24, 2014   Comments Off

Should urban farms and community gardens be allowed to sell produce in Muskegon, Michigan?

The city planning commission is discussing whether urban farms, such as this McLaughlin Grows garden should be allowed to sell their crops. Photo by Dave Alexander.

Supporters said commercial sales would create jobs and promote healthy eating.

By Lynn Moore
October 15, 2014


The city planning commission on Thursday, Oct. 16, will discuss two proposed urban farming zoning amendments that would regulate large gardens operated by private individuals, neighborhood groups and nonprofit organizations.

One proposal would only allow gardens operated by nonprofit and neighborhood groups to accept “donations” for fruits, vegetables, herbs, plants and flowers. The other would allow any urban farm operation, including private ones, to sell produce to schools, restaurants, stores and the farmers market, but not to individuals.

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October 24, 2014   Comments Off

Urban agriculture grows in Charleston, West Virginia backyards

Sarah Saville, who lives on Lewis Street on Charleston’s East End, keeps chickens in her backyard. Photo by Bob Wojcieszak/Daily Mail.

Saville is one of a growing number of residents taking advantage of the city’s urban agriculture ordinance which allows for the raising of poultry, as well as bees.

By Matt Murphy
Charleston Daily Mail
Oct 12, 2014


Charleston’s urban agriculture ordinance was likely the first in the state when it was passed in July 2013.

Among the highlights of the ordinance were gardens permitted in all zoning areas of the city, and that residents were allowed to keep hens and three beehives without city approval.

Charleston Neighborhood Planner Geoff Plagemann said almost immediately after the ordinance was passed, the planning department was flooded with calls of residents asking questions about the law — and how they could have their own chickens or bees.

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October 23, 2014   Comments Off

Namibia’s Deputy Prime Minister: ‘Investing in urban agriculture is another area that needs serious consideration’

Gardening in Namibia. By Mike Knight.

“Last years drought has taught us that … our duty is to plan and shape the urban agricultural system in ways that will alleviate hunger and poverty …”

By Mandisa Rasmeni
The Economist
17 October 2014


Organisation in order to raise the profile of family farming and smallholder farming,” said Hausiku.
Hon. Hausiku added that the commemoration of the World Food Day is one of many actions that can be taken at a political and technical level in creating awareness among urban dwellers on the impact of food waste. He also added that it creates a platform to sensitize the nation on the importance of food banks and other initiatives which promote food security in the country.

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October 22, 2014   Comments Off

Food policy searchable database contains over 100 policies


Municipalities and counties got a big boost today with the unveiling of a searchable database with more than 100 newly adopted innovative, local government food system policies that can be shared and adapted across the country.

By Rachel Teaman
The Growing Food Connections Policy Database
October 20, 2014

The Growing Food Connections Policy Database, hosted by the School of Architecture and Planning at the University at Buffalo, will assist local governments as they work to broaden access to healthy food and help sustain local farms and food producers.

Growing Food Connections, a federally-funded research initiative to strengthen community food systems nationwide, has compiled over 100 policies governing issues as diverse as public investment in food systems, farmland protection, local food procurement and food policy council resolutions.
The Growing Food Connections Policy Database was launched today at the American Farmland Trust’s national conference, which includes sessions on food systems policy, in Lexington, Ky.

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October 21, 2014   Comments Off

Chicago Slams Urban Farmer for Rats, Weeds in Former Vacant Lot

Moah’s Ark Slammed by City. Mo Cahill was issued 25 building code violations at her home and farm on Touhy Avenue. Photo credit: DNAinfo/Benjamin Woodard.

The city has collected more than $19.5 million in fines since 2009 from property owners who have violated the ordinance governing weed growth.

By Benjamin Woodard
DNA Info Chicago
October 8, 2014


An urban farmer who bought and then transformed a vacant lot into an urban farm and garden has been hit by the city with 25 building code violations.

Now she worries the city could take her to court and force her to uproot the farm.

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October 17, 2014   Comments Off

Toronto’s mayoral candidates offer food for thought on urban agriculture

Toronto mayoral candidate Olivia Chow.

Our leading mayoral candidates say they would cultivate city funding for more projects to grow food on surplus city land, create gardens

Rob Ford’s brother Doug did not respond

By Jennifer Bill
Toronto Star
Oct 15 2014


Do our mayoral candidates have an appetite for urban agriculture? Farmers’ markets, rooftop gardens, food cultivation in residential backyards and agriculture projects in city parks are examples of urban strategies that could revolutionize the city’s food production and reduce dependence on foreign-grown foods. We asked our leading mayoral candidates about where they stood on urban ag.

Question: Do you support devoting more city funding or surplus city land for urban agriculture projects?

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October 16, 2014   Comments Off

Congressman Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) – ‘Retool the system by funding and supporting urban agriculture’

See Ryan’s new book here. Hardcover – October 14, 2014

“There should be a garden in every schoolyard, a kitchen in every school and a salad bar in every cafeteria…”

By Nicole Goodkind
Yahoo Finance
Oct 15, 2014


Rep. Ryan believes the way to retool the system is by funding and supporting urban agriculture, subsidizing farmers who produce fruits and vegetables and creating markets for local growers. Ryan also believes that schools need to make changes.

“There should be a garden in every schoolyard, a kitchen in every school and a salad bar in every cafeteria so we can begin to teach our young people how to eat,” he says.

Of course, changing the agricultural industry isn’t easy. Agribusiness lobbyists have spent over $63 million so far this year and have contributed quite a bit to the campaigns of house members, including $694,007 to Ohio representative John Boehner. Going against big agriculture seems a bit like David going up against Goliath.

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October 15, 2014   Comments Off