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Category — Policy

A Kale of Two Cities: Cultivating Social Justice

La Finca Del Sur.

Urban agriculture pioneers have repurposed vacant land, greened the city, created community space, and introduced city dwellers to fresh local food.

By Nevin Cohen and Kristin Reynolds
Huffington Press
Apr 14, 2014


In many ways, cultivating social justice is more important than bringing in a bountiful harvest because simply growing more food in the city, as healthy and delicious as it may be, will never feed all those in need. Even a vastly expanded urban agriculture system will not ensure healthy communities until cities address the roots of food system disparities: poverty, discrimination, and unequal power and privilege. That’s how urban agriculture can really make a difference.

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April 18, 2014   No Comments

Would a District of Columbia “food czar” help urban farmers?

Gail Taylor says her urban farming is a “hobby” because current laws can’t support it as a business.

D.C. council mulls adding a “food czar”–which could mean more urban farms, local food, and green initiatives for all.

By Whitney Pipkin
April 08, 2014


The food czar and council could help establish a better business and tax structure for small farms like Gail Taylor’s Three Part Harmony Farm in the city. Taylor says she considers her business more of a hobby right now because it’s not a 501(c)(3) and, therefore, she can’t afford the D.C. taxes or apply for grants that would help pay her bills.

“I have another job to pay my bills and buy supplies,” Taylor testified at the hearing. “The city has not developed the necessary laws to support [urban] farms outside of that nonprofit framework.”

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April 17, 2014   No Comments

Michelle Obama opens the first-ever White House Pollinator Garden

The Sixth-Annual White House Garden Planting

By Elyse Cohen
White House Blog
Apr 3, 2014


Yesterday, the First Lady welcomed local students and FoodCorps leaders on the South Lawn for the sixth-annual planting of the White House Kitchen Garden. The garden was first planted in 2009 to commence a nationwide conversation on healthy eating and inspired the First Lady to launch Let’s Move!

At this year’s planting, the First Lady hosted the founders of FoodCorps, a program dedicated to teaching our nation’s children about healthy food while ensuring they have access to it during the school day.

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April 11, 2014   No Comments

The City of Chicago is selling vacant lots on the South Side for $1 until April 21, 2014


The Large Lot Program

The Large Lot Program is a City of Chicago neighborhood stabilization initiative to help homeowners, block clubs and non-profit groups in greater Englewood to purchase City-owned land for $1 per parcel.

The program is one of the recommendations of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s “Five-Year Housing Plan,” which will direct $1.3 billion in public spending from 2014-2018 to create, improve, and preserve more than 41,000 units of housing citywide. It’s also recommended in the Department of Planning and Development’s “Green Healthy Neighborhoods” plan, which identifies strategies to stablize greater Englewood with a variety of land use, infrastructure, and related initiatives.

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April 11, 2014   No Comments

FAO report on urban and peri-urban agriculture in Latin American cities


Havana, Mexico City, Antigua and Barbuda, Tegucigalpa, Managua, Quito, Lima, El Alto (Bolivia), Belo Horizonte (Brazil) and Rosario (Argentina)

April 2014
(Must read. Mike)

FAO has put online a new report on urban and peri-urban agriculture in the Latin America and Caribbean region. The report, entitled “Growing Greener Cities in Latin America and the Caribbean”, reviews the progress that has been made toward realizing “greener cities” in which urban and peri-urban agriculture is recognized by public policy, included in urban development strategies, supported by agricultural research and extension, and linked to sources of training, technological innovation, investment and credit, and to urban markets and consumers.

The report is available in English and Spanish. It is based on an FAO survey of UPA in 110 of the region’s towns, municipalities and cities. It includes in-depth profiles of agriculture as it is practised today in and around Havana, Mexico City, Antigua and Barbuda, Tegucigalpa, Managua, Quito, Lima, El Alto (Bolivia), Belo Horizonte (Brazil) and Rosario (Argentina).

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April 9, 2014   Comments Off

Grow Pittsburgh: “Municipal policies are limiting the burgeoning urban farm movement.”


A Growing City: Removing the Barriers to Growing Food in Pittsburgh

Julie Butcher Pezzino
Executive Director, Grow Pittsburgh
March 2014


Taking A Step Forward

To take a more proactive approach to this issue, in 2013 Grow Pittsburgh adopted an organizational strategic plan that included advocacy and policy as a priority. We began to formally collect feedback from our fellow stakeholders in the city’s urban growing scene. Our first step was distributing the Urban Grower Survey, a lengthy question- naire that yielded 248 responses from people growing food throughout the region, and a wealth of data about their activities, motivations and frustrations. We also conducted follow-up focus groups with urban farmers and backyard gardeners.

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April 7, 2014   Comments Off

Food Gardening in the U.S. at the Highest Levels in More Than a Decade


According to New Report by the National Gardening Association

- 35% of all households in America, or 42 million households, are growing food at home or in a community garden, up 17% in five years

– Largest increases in participation seen among younger households – up 63% to 13 million since 2008

– 2 million more households community gardening — up 200% since 2008

Press release from the National Gardening Association
Williston, VT (April 2, 2014)

During the past five years there’s been a significant shift toward more Americans growing their own food in home and community gardens, increasing from 36 million households in 2008 to 42 million in 2013.

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April 5, 2014   Comments Off

Councilor pushes for more urban agriculture in Colorado Springs

Councilor Jill Gaebler says allowing goats in the city could help generate a more dependable supply of food. Photo by Pam Zubeck.

Nikolai Woolf and his wife, Brandi, occupy a 7,200-square-foot lot near Old Colorado City that they call Folkways Farm. It houses two goats, several chickens, a greenhouse and bees

By Pam Zubeck
Colorado Springs Independent
Mar 26, 2014


When asked a few months ago about her priorities this year, City Councilor Jill Gaebler cited food security — including allowing hoofed stock within Colorado Springs. Now Gaebler is moving ahead with her plans, seeking to change laws to accommodate citified farmers.

And the freshman councilor doesn’t want to stop there. Later this year, she wants to establish a “food policy commission,” whose mission would include empowering residents to grow or source their own food, including eggs, milk and honey.

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March 31, 2014   Comments Off

Restructured Policies and Community Partnerships Support Urban Agriculture Within Austin City Limits

Homewood Heights Community Garden, Austin, Texas.

“Land that’s going to become a recreation center in 20 years or is going to a fire station in 20 years could be used productively right now.”

By Noelle Swan
March 24, 2014


With a ten-month growing season and a sizeable locavore-hipster population, Austin, Texas seems like the perfect location for a thriving urban agriculture scene. But like many major cities, Austin’s zoning laws and city ordinances posed numerous barriers to those wishing to grow their own food within city limits. Over the past five years, the city has taken apart those laws and restructured them to support a new food movement.

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March 29, 2014   Comments Off

Urban Agriculture Policy Making in New York’s “New Political Spaces”

‘Somerset Gardens’ by Jenny Beck. Date painted 1999.

Strategizing for a Participatory and Representative System

By Nevin Cohen, Kristin Reynolds
The New School, New York, NY, USA
Journal of Planning Education and Research
March 17, 2014
Complete paper on-line.



U.S. cities have implemented policies to support urban agriculture (UA), often developed in “new political spaces” formed when conventional policy mechanisms are unable to resolve municipal problems. This article examines these processes in New York City, particularly aspects of UA that existing policies, plans, and research strategies have not fully addressed. Interviews with UA stakeholders and an analysis of the city’s UA policy-making processes show that resource needs, along with race- and class-based disparities within the UA system remain. We recommend several policy and research strategies for creating a more participatory, representative, and multifunctional UA system.

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March 28, 2014   Comments Off

The rise of the ‘food charter’: A mechanism to increase urban agriculture

‘Geographisch-historisches Handbuch von Bayern’. Click on image for larger file.

By Michael Hardmana, Peter J. Larkhamb,
Land Use Policy
Available online Mar 22, 2014


Food charters are on the rise and are increasingly used as tools to enable urban agriculture.

Charters can be positive mechanisms for encouraging engagement between key actors in the city.

There is some reluctance to adopt the concept has been shown.

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March 28, 2014   Comments Off

Spokane Council OKs Urban Farming

Town Hens, 1995, by Lisa Graa Jensen. Click on image for larger file.

Restrictions on small livestock lifted

By David Wasson
The Spokesman-Review
Mar 25, 2014


Growing, raising and selling your own food just got easier in Spokane.

City Council members agreed Monday to lift zoning restrictions on small livestock and allow unlicensed produce stands in residential neighborhoods, a move backers hope will encourage more urban farming and sustainable lifestyles.

“If you grow it on site, you can sell it on site,” said Council President Ben Stuckart, who led the push to draft the urban farming plan.

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March 26, 2014   Comments Off

Backyard gardening initiative in Mariental, Namibia, Africa

Hardap Regional Governor Katrina Hanse-Himarwa. Mariental is a city of 10,000 inhabitants in south-central Namibia.

“A hungry man is a sick man. A hungry man is an angry man.”

By Hoandi !Gaeb
New Era


More than a hundred residents of Mariental assembled at the Aimablaagte community hall on Sunday to register for participation in a backyard gardening initiative proposed by Hardap Regional Governor Katrina Hanse-Himarwa.

The residents, who will be the first to receive assistance from the government in the form of seeds and other requisite inputs for successful backyard gardening, were informed that most of the preparatory work for the gardening project should be in place before the end of May, when the official launch is envisaged to take place.

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March 26, 2014   Comments Off

Atlanta’s ‘food swamps’ and Food and Farm

atlfertFertile Crescent Garden.

The Fertile Crescent has been training teens and young adults at a west side shelter called City of Refuge to grow and harvest kale.

By Rebecca Burns in Atlanta
The Guardian
17 March 2014


“Instead of talking about a food desert, the better term is really ‘food swamp’. There is an abundance of food, but it’s not healthy or varied,” Kwabena Nkromo told me. Nkromo runs a programme called Atlanta Food & Farm, which aims to connect local growers, store owners and poor neighborhoods.

“It’s not a lack of food; it’s a lack of good food,” he said. Nkromo studied agriculture and economic development at Tuskegee and Clemson; he presumed that he’d work on famine relief in Africa or some other developing region of the world. He did not imagine that he’d be working on urban farm policies in the American south.

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March 23, 2014   Comments Off

Sacramento: Oak Park Urban Garden Looks To Sell Its Produce

“I found out the zoning for residential areas prohibits being able to grow food from your backyard and sell it unless you go to a farmer’s market.”

CBS Sacramento
March 15, 2014


He created a 1000 square feet garden with everything from kale and beets, to lettuce and asparagus.

“Asparagus, I think, is the best crop for the home gardener … I can say we’ve saved thousands of thousands of dollars,” Chanowk said.

Now, his urban family farm is on a mission to offer healthy produce to a neighborhood filled with convenient stores and fast food restaurants.

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March 22, 2014   Comments Off