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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Update on Community Garden and Urban Agriculture Plans and Policies

Cities across the US are beginning to be enlightened to creating ordinances, policies and zoning to allow
and even encourage urban agriculture and community gardening. A recent New York Times article
highlighted the fact that some cites particularly in the Midwest and Northeast have large numbers of
vacant lots with little demand from developers to build on them.

This has been a problem for many years in Philadelphia and Cleveland.In fact,Cleveland has a very
strong Urban Agriculture policy. In fact it will be the topic of discussion at an upcoming October
Experts Panel Conference Call for ACGA Members with Morgan Taggart giving the Cleveland story
and Bill Maynard information about Sacramento's community garden friendly policy.

In some cases the policies are urban agriculture policies which are aimed toward allowing food
growing in urban areas as an entrepreneurial enterprise. In fact there was a flurry of activity this
spring as San Francisco passed what they are calling the "most progressive" urban agriculture
ordinance in the US. on April 14, 2011.

This policy was the result of advocacy work done by small urban farmers who wanted a positive
policy.

One day later Minneapolis adopted the first Urban Agriculture Policy Plan for that city. The
Minneapolis plan was crafted by a group of around 100 stakeholders.

Other cities are working on policies and pans including Oakland, CA, Chicago and Detroit. All
three cities have plans that are currently being debated.

As I wrote in previous posts, New York City passed a new rule about community gardens and
also passed Foodworks - comprehensive food policy that includes provisions for rooftop farms
as well as other healthy food initiatives.

Seattle has always been in the forefront having included community gardens in their city plans for
many years. The plan establishes a goal of one community garden for every 2,500 households in
the city.

All of this policy activity bodes well for the legitimacy and longevity of community gardens and
urban agriculture initiatives. The next steps should be the creation of new community gardens
and urban farms, sharing of best practices among practitioners and support from all levels of
government, higher education and foundation that recognizes the importance of community
gardens to the environment and health of our cities.

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