The Windy City took another step toward sustainability on July 29, 2015 when Chicago’s City Council approved a new compost ordinance.
The new regulation will allow community gardens in Chicago to compost various types of organic waste, including food scraps such as vegetables and eggshells. Previously, only landscape waste was permitted for compost, such as grass and shrubbery clippings.
Formerly, community gardens and urban farms were only allowed to compost items that were produced on-site. Accepting donations of food scraps was not permitted, and permits were required for all compost containers measuring more than five cubic yards.
More and more cities across the country are adopting urban agriculture ordinances to regulate and provide predictability and direction for urban growers. The move towards adopting local regulations for urban agriculture has not been uniform. Some cities face challenges passing and adopting ordinances while other find widespread support from citizens and state legislators and a smooth path to implementation.
Santa Fe city officials say an urban agriculture ordinance is in the works, but the slow grinding of the city government wheel was too little too late for Gaia Gardens, the Santa Fe urban farm of Poki Piottin and Dominique Pozo that ceased operations in August in response to trouble with city inspectors, according to a report in the Albuquerque Journal. The pair had advocated for change through battles over water, zoning and calls by neighbors for their farm stand to be closed. Exhausted and disillusioned, the farmers stop fighting and closed their farm.
by Julianne Tveten
Pittsburgh City Council passed an ordinance in July to ease restrictions on maintaining chickens, ducks, goats, and apiaries in the city.
Drafted by a collection of agricultural nonprofits, the ordinance follows a 2011 regulation that required residents to undergo a hearing process lasting up to three months and pay up to $340 in cumulative fees. Under the new law, Pittsburghers can obtain a permit for $70 and be approved within a day.
The Los Angeles River flows from the Simi Hills, northwest of Los Angeles, through the San Fernando Valley and into the Pacific Ocean at Long Beach. A large portion of the river is concrete.
But now, urban planners and other stakeholders envision a portion of the LA River as being home to a robust agricultural zone in the heart of Los Angeles.
Funded by a California Proposition 84 (Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Bond of 2006) grant, the Los Angeles River Revitalization Corporation and architecture and urban planning firm Perkins+Will have explored the feasibility of creating an agricultural hub on the banks of the Los Angeles River.
After extensive research and community input, the conclusion was that such an agriculture hub is a viable option. Specifically, it was decided that a 660-acre area along the river in the neighborhoods of Lincoln Heights, Cypress Park and Chinatown is an ideal place to start such an urban agriculture project.
Interested in learning from agricultural futurists, urban farmers, and entrepreneurs pushing the bounds of food access and soilless growing? Looking to meet like-minded ag entrepreneurs and urban farmers? Searching for food buyers, venture investors, or technology partners?
Then you won’t want to miss the upcoming “4th Annual Seedstock Sustainable Agriculture Conference: Innovation and the Rise of Local Food” in San Diego on Nov. 3 – 4, 2015. The event will kick off
Nick Leonard is an environmental law attorney currently serving a fellowship at the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center. Operating in Detroit since 2008, Leonard is an expert on the legalities of urban farming in Detroit and the surrounding region. Working pro bono, Leonard provides legal advice to individuals, organizations and businesses involved in urban agriculture. Leonard addresses some of the legal questions of urban farmers in Detroit and other cities.
What is the most frequent legal question you hear when it comes to urban farms?
Many of Detroit’s farmers and gardeners have been operating on their current site pursuant to a real property license agreement with the City of Detroit. [This is a common arrangement in cities]. Unfortunately, real property license agreements provide very little security for the license holder as they can essentially be terminated at any time. Many urban farmers and gardeners are very interested in how they can legally obtain a secure interest in their farm property and what they must do to comply with all continuing real property obligations, like maintaining the property in accordance with local property maintenance laws.
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.”
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.