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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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urban agriculture policy

Urban Agriculture Blossoms in Kansas City after Passage of Farm-Friendly Zoning Ordinance

April 17, 2014 |
Photos courtesy of Cultivate Kansas City. Photo credit: Ami Freeberg.

Photos courtesy of Cultivate Kansas City. Photo credit: Ami Freeberg.

“Farm” is no longer a four-letter word in Kansas City—and it hasn’t been since 2010 when the city passed a zoning ordinance allowing citizens to grow food in residential areas. Prior to the ordinance, it was illegal to grow food for profit in areas zoned residential. This made operations difficult for urban farmers, especially those whose business models revolved around growing food within the communities they sold to.

Kansas City urban farmer and educator Steve Mann played an integral part in the passage of the ordinance, along with other leaders in Kansas City’s sustainable agriculture movement. Mann, who is the site developer for the sustainable agriculture nonprofit Cultivate Kansas City and a gardening educator for Food Not Lawns Kansas City, says that both farmers and city officials were eager to work together to make Kansas City more urban farm-friendly. Read More

City of Portland Continues Long History of Sustainable Urban Farming

April 10, 2014 |
 Photograph courtesy of the City of Portland Department of Parks & Recreation


Photograph courtesy of the City of Portland Department of Parks & Recreation

With just over half a million residents, Portland is a small northwestern city with long roots in sustainability and urban agriculture. In 1981, an urban growth boundary was approved for the city forcing a dense population into a restricted space and transitioning the city into a space savvy social economy.  Popular Science name Portland the most sustainable city back in 2008. Today, Portland remains a 400-square mile haven for sustainability enthusiasts and avid gardeners.

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Trust for Public Land Forays into Boston Urban Agriculture Land Deals

April 8, 2014 |
Residents of the Dudley neighborhood participate in a raised bed community garden build day at the DNI Community Land Trust. Photo courtesy of Dudley Neighborhood Inc.

Residents of the Dudley neighborhood participate in a raised bed community garden build day at the DNI Community Land Trust. Photo courtesy of Dudley Neighborhood Inc.

It is said it takes a village to raise a child. And what does it take to raise a commercial crop of leafy greens on a vacant lot in Boston? A different kind of village—one that includes experts practiced in the art of land tenure.

By bringing together such experts,  the Trust for Public Land is helping to facilitate urban agriculture in the City of Boston. Back in 1972, the organization’s founder, Huey Johnson, recognized that negotiating land deals calls for expertise in law, real estate and finance.  The trick to open space preservation, as he saw it, was to employ the strategies of modern business.  Forty some odd years later, TPL has seen through over 5,300 parks and conservation projects in the majority of the nation’s states as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Read More

Milwaukee Leads Nation in Urban Agriculture Development

April 7, 2014 |
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Milwaukee Public Market. Photo source: Wikipedia


The City of Milwaukee is rife with urban farming organizations, like the venerable Growing Power, non-profit groups like Walnut Way and for-profit organizations like Sweet Water Organics and Central Greens. All of these groups have have helped shape Milwaukee into a national leader in the local food and urban agriculture movement.

According to an Urban Agriculture Code Audit  recently conducted for Milwaukee by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Milwaukee’s urban agriculture scene has grown to a point where there is now an immediate need for expanded processing centers.

The audit also found that while the city’s Building and Zoning Code provides a good foundation for facilitating urban agriculture, the code should be updated to allow for beekeeping aquaculture, and chicken keeping, and should be further developed to create standards for and accessory structures and uses like food processing and composting. Read More

City of Denver Advances Local Food Policy With Public-Private Partnerships

April 3, 2014 |
Harvesting squash. Photo courtesy of Shannon Spurlock.

Harvesting squash. Photo courtesy of Shannon Spurlock.

Where does your food come from?

For years, residents of Denver, Colorado may have scratched their heads over that question, because most of the city’s food supply was sourced from elsewhere. Recently, however, stakeholders in the private and public sectors collaborated to help food growers prosper within the Denver metropolitan area.

Some stakeholders have their hands in the dirt, teaching urban agriculture methods and building community gardens. Others are working behind the scenes to change the laws governing land use in Denver. All are working toward a goal set by Mayor Michael Hancock in 2013 to acquire at least 25 percent of the city’s food from “sources produced (grown and processed) entirely within Colorado,” according to the Mayor’s 2020 Sustainability Goals. Read More

Detroit Food Policy Council Focuses on Protecting City’s Existing Farms

March 31, 2014 |

dfpcBy working through the challenges of its industrial past and embracing new ideas for a way forward, the Detroit Food Policy Council is working to rebuild a historic American city fallen on hard times into a shining center of urban agriculture.

The Detroit Food Policy Council, which launched in 2009, is a 21-member organization that brings members from across the food and public service world work together to help build Detroit’s urban agriculture and local food systems through policy recommendations with an emphasis on food security, food access and food sovereignty.

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City of Baltimore Adopts Policies and Programs to ‘Grow Local, Buy Local, Eat Local’

March 26, 2014 |
Photo courtesy of City of Baltimore

Photo courtesy of City of Baltimore

Baltimore has long been working towards a more sustainable city. In 2009, it developed the Baltimore Sustainability Plan, which included a number of broad recommendations to move the city towards a sustainable future.

And in November 2013, it took a large step towards one of those goals—food sustainability—with the adoption by the Baltimore City Planning Commission of Homegrown Baltimore: Grow Local, a three-pronged plan to “grow local, buy local, and eat local.”

The city sees its role as supporting the local food movement that is already underway, rather than trying to create it.

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

March 24, 2014 |
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Austinites build an artist-designed community garden. Photo courtesy of Austin Art in Public Places

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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