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Category — Policy

Washington DC considers bill to encourage urban farming on vacant lots

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Three Part Harmony Farm founder Gail Taylor, right, waters leeks planted by farm volunteers in the 3200 block of 4th Street NE. Photo by Mark Gail.

“If we could create more food in the city, we could decrease the cost and increase the quality,”

By Karen Chen
Washington Post
September 19, 2014

Excerpt:

Echoing similar initiatives in cities like San Francisco and Baltimore, the D.C. Urban Farming and Food Security Act aims to fix part of the problem. The bill outlines a plan to connect publicly and privately-owned vacant land with urban farming ventures in an effort to provide more sustainable and healthy food options for surrounding communities and transform unused and sometimes unsafe areas into productive green spaces.

Introduced in February and scheduled to go to markup in coming months, the bill offers private owners a substantial property tax deduction — 50 percent — if they lease the land for farming. Supporters said they hope to see the bill extend tax-exempt status for commercial urban farms on land owned by non-profits and religious entities.

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September 28, 2014   No Comments

Nebraska Legislature’s ag panel tackles obstacles to urban farms, local food

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“We need new farmers on the farms, creating new markets.”

By Paige Yowell
Omaha World-Herald
Sept 26, 2014

Excerpt:

Roxanne Williams, the organization’s executive director, was one of about 15 people to testify at a hearing of the Nebraska Legislature’s Agriculture Committee Thursday in Omaha. The committee is focused on two studies that aim to address the issues facing community gardens and local food production.

One study, introduced by State Sen. Burke Harr, a member of the committee who represents midtown Omaha, looks at ways the state can encourage development of community gardens. A similar study by Sen. Rick Kolowski of Omaha aims to examine efforts that can increase access to local food networks.

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September 28, 2014   No Comments

Creating a Pesticide Free Neighborhood in Portland

The Pesticide Free Project has passed its 1-year mark, and has gotten 400 homes to sign the pesticide free pledge

By Rebecca Gerendasy
Cooking Up a Story
Sept 2014

Excerpt:

As Melco explains in the video, the main goal of the project is to protect residents, especially babies and young children— from chronic, low-level exposure to potentially harmful chemicals. Through a partnership with Portland Metro, The Xerces Society, and Backyard Habitat Certification Program, Melco and her team are going door to door canvasing the 2500 homes to educate homeowners.

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September 27, 2014   No Comments

NPR – Tax Breaks May Turn San Francisco’s Vacant Lots Into Urban Farms

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Urban farmers turning a vacant lot into a garden plot in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley. Photo by Chris Martin/Flickr.

Thanks to the new tax break, Roland will begin saving about $6,000 per year.

By Alastair Bland
NPR
September 09, 2014

Excerpt:

Here’s how the tax break works: Property owners who are willing to turn uninhabited land into farms would get that land assessed at the going tax rate for the state’s irrigated farmland. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, that was about $12,500 per acre in 2013.

If accepted into the program, the property owner’s annual dues to the city would drop from $10,000 or more to roughly $100. But the landowner would have to keep the land as an agricultural operation for at least five years or pay back the balance of the tax reduction, plus interest.

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September 21, 2014   No Comments

Grand Rapids women appeal city crackdown on backyard farm animals

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A pig named “Lord Bacon Dispenser the Third Duke of Hamelot” inside the “urban farm” behind Claire McGinn and Kendra Ritter’s Grand Rapids home on Coit Ave NE. The couple was cited for an odor violation and will appeal to the city next week. They have 10 chickens, five ducks, two bunnies, one turkey and one pig. Photo by Cory Morse.

Meet Spencer the pig

By Matt Vande Bunte
Mlive
September 05, 2014

Excerpt:

McGinn got ticketed this summer for violating city property maintenance code that prohibits livestock within 100 feet of any dwelling. She was also cited for “strong animal waste odor from the chickens, ducks and rabbit defecating in the yard,” according to the report of a city inspector.

McGinn appealed to the city’s Housing Board of Appeals, which started hearing the case last month and will reconvene 1 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 10, at the city’s Development Center, 1120 Monroe Ave. NW.

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September 18, 2014   No Comments

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

Excerpt:

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

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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

Excerpt:

“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

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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

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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
09/06/2014
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)

Excerpts:

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

Director-general of UN Food and Agriculture Organisation visits Singapore – Sees vertical farms and discusses urban agriculture

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Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan met with Mr José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, uring his inaugural official visit to Singapore.

“Commercial indoor and rooftop vegetable farms are opening and other urban and peri-urban agricultural initiatives are taking shape.”

By L Jessica
AsiaOne
Sep 05, 2014

Excerpts:

Mr Graziano da Silva visited progressive local farms such as Sky Greens and Swee Chioh Fishery, which make use of technology to maximise productivity and land efficiency.

During the visit, Singapore affirmed intent to collaborate with FAO on joint projects to boost food security and food safety in Singapore and the region, such as vertical farming in a land-scarce urban environment, and the attachment of Singapore expertise to FAO.

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September 6, 2014   Comments Off

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

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

By Eli Zigas
City Lab
Sep 4, 2014

Excerpt:

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

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

By Conor Friedersdorf
The Atlantic
Sept. 3 2014

Excerpt:

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

Why Conservatives Should Care About Urban Farming

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Angelus (Angelus Domini) by Jean-Francois Millet (October 4, 1814 – January 20, 1875).

Urban farming brings beauty to barren landscapes, provides for needy communities, and fosters an entrepreneurial spirit.

By Gracy Olmstead
The Federalist
Aug 26, 2014

Excerpt:

On a more philosophical level, it’s worth considering what these practices may bring to the city: what ideas and mores they may foster, and whether they may even bring some rural values to the heart of urban society. When people are more connected to their food source and more responsible for their sustenance, they learn principles of stewardship and responsibility that can counteract wider habits of consumerism. By cultivating food-desert farms that couple charity with job opportunities, people may begin to appreciate a more work-oriented, less state-facilitated sort of philanthropy. Participating in things like Community Supported Agriculture, co-ops, and farmer’s markets could help foster a sense of community and local camaraderie that is often foreign to urban environments.

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September 3, 2014   Comments Off

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

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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

Excerpt:

“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

Why are women doing most of the work on so many urban farms?

womnyMaggie Cheney, center, the director of farms and education for the food-access group EcoStation:NY, at the Bushwick Campus Farm in Brooklyn with Kristina Erskine, left, and Iyeshima Harris, garden managers. Photo by Erin Patrice O’Brien for The New York Times.

Mother Nature’s Daughters

By Michael Tortorello
New York Times
Aug. 27, 2014

Excerpt:

This is where the speculation begins — and, inevitably, the stereotypes. Are women more willing to nurture their communities (and also their beet greens)? Are men preoccupied with techie farm toys like aquaponics? Is gender the reason the radio at the Queens Farm washing station is always stuck on Beyoncé and Alicia Keys?

More significant, if urban ag work comes to be seen as women’s work, what will that mean for the movement’s farming model, mission and pay?

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September 1, 2014   Comments Off