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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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urban agriculture policy

Mahindra USA Boosts Michigan’s Urban Farm Space

July 17, 2015 |
Photo courtesy of Mahindra.

Photo courtesy of Mahindra.

Mahindra USA, a Houston, Tx.-based farming equipment manufacturer, shifted its focus towards sustainable agriculture, in 2010. And now the firm is looking to boost small urban farms with a recent investment of $100,000 in Detroit’s urban farmers.

Through its Detroit-based North American Technical Center, Mahindra awarded money and equipment grants to five Detroit nonprofits. The recipients include two community gardening programs, the Neighbors Building Brightmoor’s Farmway group and the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network’s D-Town Farm. The city of Detroit received a Mahindra utility vehicle. The tractor company has made similar awards to other metropolitan areas and their urban farmers in the past.

“As part of the urban ag initiative program it’s a natural fit,” says Martin Cisneros, Marketing Communications Manager at Mahindra USA remarking on the Detroit investment.  “I think it’s a movement we’re generally seeing across the industry; a more sustainable agriculture. Seems like the ecotype farming initiatives, the co-ops, is what you see a lot more of.” Read More

Proposed Ordinance in Pittsburgh Looks to Get Urban Agriculture Out of the Coop

June 25, 2015 |
The City of Pittsburgh will look at a proposed ordinance that would streamline the permitting process of raising chickens, goats and ducks in the city limits. (photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

The City of Pittsburgh will look at a proposed ordinance that would streamline the permitting process of raising chickens, goats and ducks in the city limits. (photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Even though raising chickens is legal in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, city residents who want to own these birds have had to deal with cumbersome regulations. But thanks to a new proposed ordinance, this may change.

The previous law, passed in 2011, required Pittsburghers to fork over $340 and undergo a hearing process lasting for several months. Hence, only 13 people in the city have successfully applied for a chicken-raising permit.

Yet many chickens call Pittsburgh home but fly under the radar, according to Shelly Danko+Day, an open space specialist with the City of Pittsburgh. Read More

Baltimore Combats Food Deserts with Urban Farming Tax Break

May 27, 2015 |
RFF Hoop.jpg Caption: The hooped Real Food Farm in Baltimore, Maryland. Credit: Baltimore Office of Sustainability

RFF Hoop.jpg
Caption: The hooped Real Food Farm in Baltimore, Maryland.
Credit: Baltimore Office of Sustainability

Urban farmers in the city of Baltimore will soon qualify for a 90 percent property tax break under a bill recently approved by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. The move, which is the latest in a series of tax-break initiatives for city growers seen in areas like San Francisco and Washington, D.C., is intended to bolster local production of healthy food.

Drafted by Councilman William “Pete” Welch, the bill, which will likely go into effect next month, gives a tax credit to farmers who make at least $5,000 per year selling crops and raise no more than five acres of land. Read More

NYU Urban Farm Lab Teaches Important Lesson in Urban Ag

April 21, 2015 |
NYU Urban Farm Lab

NYU Urban Farm Lab

NYU’s Urban Farm Lab is not your typical classroom, but for students at NYU’s Food Studies program, it’s where they learn one very important lesson: how to grow food in the big city.

The Urban Farm Lab was the inspiration of NYU graduate student Daniel Bowman Simon who thought there should be an urban garden on campus. Unfortunately, the administration didn’t agree— at least not at first. But after five years of campaigning, Bowman Simon and members of NYU’s Food Studies Department got the administration on board, and the NYU Urban Farm Lab was born. Read More

Urban Farming Ramps Up in Sacramento with Passage of New Ordinance

April 12, 2015 |
Tirtsah Yisrael works 1/2 an acre on Yisrael Urban Family Farm in Sacramento (photo courtesy of Andrew Send and the Sacramento Bee)

Tirtsah Yisrael works 1/2 an acre on Yisrael Urban Family Farm in Sacramento
(photo courtesy of Andrew Send and the Sacramento Bee)

by Traci Knight

Food and agriculture activists have something to celebrate this year in Sacramento, California. On March 23, 2015, City Council passed an urban farming ordinance that paves the way for food security and an inner city agricultural economy. The 6-1 vote by council members makes specific changes to allow and promote urban agriculture and micro farms within city limits.

Advocacy groups such as Ubuntu Green worked with locals to build a coalition of support for the proposed ordinance. Top Sacramento chefs and restaurateurs also took an active role, sponsoring a letter with 39 prominent signatories urging the city to pass laws to allow for the city to become a robust model of integrated, urban food production. Read More

Iowa State University’s Agricultural Urbanism Toolkit Helps Communities ‘Start the Conversation’ on Local Food Systems

March 10, 2015 |
Photo courtesy of University of Iowa’s Community Design Lab

Photo courtesy of University of Iowa’s Community Design Lab

A new Agricultural Urbanism Toolkit produced by the Iowa State University’s  Community Design Lab offers communities the planning tools necessary to prioritize and ignite urban farming projects. Created with the support of a grant from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, the Toolkit includes process, practice and case studies to help jump-start local urban agriculture programs.

Courtney Long is a fellow for the Community Design Lab and facilitator of the urbanism toolkit program. Read More

Long Beach Co-op Looks to Build Sustainable Physical and Mental Landscapes

February 5, 2015 |
Image courtesy of Foodscape

Image courtesy of Foodscape

Ryan Serrano was 22 and freshly graduated from California State University, Long Beach, when he founded Foodscape in 2011.

The journey took a winding road toward its present incarnation. At first, Serrano immersed himself in social issues in college, and saw how food access can be a symptom of social dysfunction as well as a catalyst for social change. The key, he believes, is sustained and easy access to healthy, sustainable and affordable food.

Read More

Irvine, California’s “Great Park” Delivers on the Potential of Municipal Urban Agriculture

February 2, 2015 |
Image courtesy of the City of Irvine, California

Image courtesy of the City of Irvine, California

Known as the “First Great Metropolitan Park of the 21st Century,” the City of Irvine’s 1,300-acre “Great Park,” is living up to its ambitious goals.

Created on the grounds of the former El Toro Naval Base, the park’s focus on promoting a relationship between local residents, sustainable food systems and community green space provides an example of how far a city can go to foster sustainable agriculture. Read More