urban agriculture policy
by Julianne Tveten
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.
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.
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.
Iowa State University’s Agricultural Urbanism Toolkit Helps Communities ‘Start the Conversation’ on Local Food SystemsMarch 10, 2015 | Trish Popovitch
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.
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.
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.
Founded in 2002, the LA Neighborhood Land Trust is a nonprofit organization that identifies underutilized space in a 475-square miles area in and around Los Angeles, and transforms it into green space for urban agriculture and community recreation projects.
Real estate costs are high in Los Angeles, so the work of the Trust moves forward one small lot at a time.
“Our little land trust is good with conserving half-acre properties and creating green space in a community that has never existed before,” says Mark Glassock, director of special projects for the Trust. “In terms of our acreage, we are quite small, but in terms of our impact and our reach in terms of population, I believe we’re actually very, very large.”
San Francisco broke new ground this past July by becoming the first California city to allow for tax incentives on land used for urban farming. The city’s Urban Agriculture Incentive Zone Ordinance piggybacks on California State Assembly Bill 551, which permits state municipalities to create the zones. Under the ordinance, property owners must commit to using their land for agricultural purposes for five years or more. The city’s Planning Department determines a parcel’s eligibility, and the Assessor-Recorder is responsible for determining the change in property tax.
While the legislation has been embraced by many in the city’s urban farming community, it’s also ruffled some feathers among those concerned about affordable housing in the city.