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Thread: Community gardens/urban food production

  1. #1
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    Community gardens/urban food production

    Has anyone dealt with Community Gardens and/or Urban Food Production in a General Plan? We would like to include it with our General Plan Update in the Community Health Element.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    The City of Albuquerque has recently established a City Climate Action Task Force that addresses policy on a number of issues, including Food Security and Urban Agriculture. "Encouraging Community Gardens" is one such strategic goal, though actions and targets are still being developed. I expect that the results will be folded into the Comp Plan or some other approved and enforceable document, but I don't know those details.

    I work for a non-profit that manages a community garden and I have been asked to provide input to the Task Force (we're looking at next month for a series of meetings on the topic). What I am advocating is two things:

    1) Government support for the establishment and maintenance of a citizen network of existing gardens and other resources (County Extension Services, for example). This would likely take the form of a listserve, website and possibly regular meetings.

    2) City/County support for key obstacles that stymie community garden efforts currently. This includes assistance or fee waiving for water access to vacant lots where people intend to garden (we garden on such a lot under a contractual agreement with the landowner, but we use the neighbor's hose to irrigate because hookup fees for a meter and plumbing is in excess of $5000). Also, liability coverage for community gardens is a big concern and many states, like ours, have a very difficult time getting such coverage.

    One good resource to look at which has supported all of the above efforts to organize and formalize these activities is the Mid Region Council of Governments (MRCOG). Here is a link to their Agricultural Collaborative page: http://www.mrcog-nm.gov/content/view/17/55/

    If you want to know more or if I can try to steer you to some local City resources, PM me.

    You might also send your Q to the listserve of the American Community Gardening Association. They have a very active listserve with many people that mat know about how this is dealt with by their cities: http://www.communitygarden.org/
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  3. #3
    Dan Staley's avatar
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    Denver includes community gardens as a component of open space in its Game Plan implementation document. There are no specific metrics or indicators for these gardens, but there is staff dedicated (not full time) to ensuring community gardens happen and are protected.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the advice. Wahday, I can't seem to PM you (I'm new at this still), it says I dont have permission. In the meantime, that would be great if you could help direct me to some more City specific documents, etc. In general, I'm unclear how a City can promote urban farming and any examples of regulatory measures or more big picture planning type goals, policies, etc. would be great.

    Thanks!

    Aaron

  5. #5
    Cyburbian urbanrenewal's avatar
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    I'm dealing with a municipality here in Australia that's trying to introduce concepts of urban gardens and food security in a housing strategy.

    It's all talk at the moment, as it's one of those documents which is "out for consultation". Personally I think it's very, very poorly thought out - it seems to be so nebulous to consult about an idea without proper examples of how it would work.

    Here's the link if anyone wants to take a look.

    http://www.greatershepparton.com.au/...ingstrategy08/

  6. #6
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    Community gardens/urban food production

    Have you heard about a new business that started in San Francisco they create urban organic gardens in peoples backyards? Attached is the link so you can check it out.

    http://www.myfarmsf.com/index.html

    MyFarm is a decentralized urban farm that grows vegetables in backyard gardens throughout the city. They install the garden and a farmer comes once a week to maintain it. Homeowners can get as involved as they would like in the process. Their mission is all about creating a sustainable food system. They already have more business than they can handle.

    You might consider policies that encourage this type of entrepreneur in your GP, also inquire to see if the City's San Francisco, Berkly, Oakland and Marin have already included some policies given My Farm operates in their jurisdictions.

    -Pech-

  7. #7
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Below are some links to sites that have info on roles various cities play in promoting urban agriculture. Most focus on community gardening. In general, the way that municipalities are offering this support is in providing land, water, other infrastructure, organic matter (compost, back fill with plantable soil) and other support (clearing land, bulldozing up asphalt, etc.). Often (and the Seattle example is a good one) the management of these spaces is contracted out to a non-profit that deals with day-to-day operations. I don't know about funding in these circumstances (contracting to a non-profit), but I suspect the City provides some or all of operating funds, with additional funds raised by the non-profit staffs. In some cases, management of these spaces is run through the parks and rec departments and additional manpower is provided by volunteers.

    Generally speaking, most of the city-run spaces are on a community-gardening model which is usually people growing for household consumption. This does not address the prospect of people farming within a city as their main income. For that, try looking at this page from the City of Albuquerque. Albuquerque and Bernalillo County Open Space own a number of historic farmlands within the metro area. These parcels are farmed by independent growers for profit at a reduced rental rate. The idea is that they want this traditionally agricultural land to continue to be farmed so that it is productive. It also reduces the maintenance burden for those municipalities. Often they are run as demonstration farms and the public can visit and watch operations and special farm-related events may be programmed there. This link shows a couple of examples: http://www.cabq.gov/openspace/farmlands.html

    So, that's another possible avenue for support - the city renting larger parcels to small-scale, for profit growers at a reduced rate (to provide incentive)

    Lastly, there is the issue of municipalities providing crucial information to growers (both household growers and for-profit farmers). Programs that help link growers with lucrative markets, run (or at least provide space and partial funding for) growers markets, profile successful urban farms, etc. are ways municipalities can and are providing support for urban agriculture. An example I linked to in my previous post (http://www.mrcog-nm.gov/content/view/17/55/) is from a regional planning authority in the Albuquerque area. They have monthly forums on linking growers with buyers (restaurants, local produce markets, growers markets, Community Supported Agriculture, etc.) and a host of other topics. They profile successful farmers and their models as well as the buying patterns of restaurants and others, providing practical information on how to make this enterprise viable.

    Ok, here are links to some cities that have programs in support of Community Gardening or Urban Agriculture in general. Again, support is mainly in providing land and water and to a lesser extent, management (or, money for a non-profit group to manage).

    Portland, Oregon: http://www.portlandonline.com/parks/...=39846&a=93176

    Beaverton, Oregon: http://www.beavertonoregon.gov/departments/gardens/

    San Francisco: http://www.parks.sfgov.org/site/recp...x.asp?id=27048

    Article about what Mexico City is doing: http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0905/p07s05-woam.html

    Denton, Texas: http://www.cityofdenton.com/pages/pa...nitygarden.cfm

    Seattle: http://www.seattle.gov/Neighborhoods/ppatch/
    http://www.cityfarmer.info/mayor-lau...ondon-by-2012/

    A New York Times Article that talks about what New York and some other cities are doing. "Local officials and nonprofit groups have been providing land, training and financial encouragement." It also mentions a number of city and non-profits programs/organizations in the article: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/07/dining/07urban.html

    That should get you started and I hope this helps. Good luck. I would be curious to see what comes of this...
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  8. #8
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Here is an article about urban agriculture in Holyoke, MA:

    http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ma...s_save_a_city/

  9. #9
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    Great stuff everyone, I will be mulling this over and will post an update when I have one! Thanks again!

    Aaron

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by urbanrenewal View post
    It's all talk at the moment, as it's one of those documents which is "out for consultation". Personally I think it's very, very poorly thought out - it seems to be so nebulous to consult about an idea without proper examples of how it would work.

    [/url]
    Look at www.cityfarmer.org and its sister site www.cityfarmer.info.
    The latter has dozens of examples from all over the world and across a long span of time.

    Also seach the web for "urban agriculture" and you will find a gold mine of information.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Richi's avatar
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    Please don't regulate it to death. One shouldn't have to be zoned correctly to have a garden. Innocuous anamals kike chickens, rabbits, bees should be ok anywhere dogs and cats are. R$%osters that crow should be regulated no more than dogs that bark all night long.

    On the other hand, revise regulations that require well tended lawns to allow garden beds and fruit/nut tree orchards and vines in the front yard. Thanks

  12. #12
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    community garden ordinance in Leon County FL

    If it helps, Leon County, Florida, is about to adopt an ordinance that "allows" community gardens. I have provided a link (below) to the report for the first of two required public hearings to adopt this ordinance, and the ordinance can be found as link to the report document...if the link is problematic, go to Board Meetings under Leon County's home page...look at public hearings for December 9...the second public hearing will be soon, in January and we are expecting passage. Staff is presently supportive of community gardens (some of us actually garden) but believe the ordinance is appropriate to provide a legal basis in case someone complains when we get more and more community gardens (as I anticipate we will). Ciao, The Doctor

    http://www.leoncountyfl.gov/admin/Ag...date=12/9/2008

  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    Sadly in our update of our zoning ordinance, we will be disallowing the keeping of any "farm" animals inside city limits - no chickens, cows, horses, geese, goats, etc.

    A lot of people here garden in some form or another (medium-sized town in the midwest surrounded by farmland). Our city even rents out unpurchased plots in the municipal cemetery every spring for people who want to garden but don't have enough space (these are at the very edge of the cemetery and far from any buried bodies).

    The Recreation Commission had this advertisement in their quarterly newsletter.
    "______ Community Gardens
    Fresh air, sunshine, beautiful flowers, and bountiful vegetables.
    All are the results of having a garden at the _____ Community Gardens. The Gardens is entering its 29th year of serving _____ and residents at the corner of Severance and Wall streets.______ Community Gardens will begin taking requests for new garden plots Jan. 2. Call ______ Cemetery at (xxx) xxx-3241 or stop by the cemetery office to reserve your garden space. Space is limited, as 25 x 30 foot plots cost $17 a year, and 30 x 50 foot plots cost $27 a year. If you enjoy growing things, but lack the space to do so, community garden might be the answer. Community gardening is a great way to work the soil and have fun while producing something to show for your efforts."

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Richi's avatar
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    Climate Change, Energy Conservation & Local Agriculture

    Florida's Energy and Climate Change Action Plan has endorsed the promotion of local and regional agriculture. We now have a law (SB 697) that requires comprehensive plan amendments (and entire plans at the next update) to show how they promote the reduction in greenhouse gases. Wonder how long it will take for flat prohibitions on keeping "farm" animals (livestock) vs. performance standards to smash up against theargument that a few hens in the backyard is a step toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions. I'd rather have some hens in chicken tractors moved around the neighbor's back yard than the big dog that barks half the night. Heck, throw in a rooster. At least they don't crow at midnight!

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    It is amazing to me how somebody within earshot of a freeway can complain about the crowing of a rooster, how somebody can put up with the sounds and fumes of lawnmowers and weed trimmers but go into shock over a couple of sheep, or dump tons of chemical fertilizers and herbicides on their lawn but think their life is threatened by a bee hive.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  16. #16
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Check out this link, its a wonderful summary for some of what is happening here. http://www.modeldmedia.com/features/sustain60.aspx If you check on it before they change the banner, you will see what I see everyday as I am lucky to work in one of those buildings.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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