i find this developement rather exciting

Bad Seed Farm in Kansas City Brings Urban Farming to the Next Level: Legislation

Urban farming is not new -- its been a way to feed cities for thousands of years. But in the US, it was purposely planned out of our cities, even as they grew bigger and, as a result, hungrier. Now many of our cities contain massive sprawl, which have created new opportunities in the form of abandoned lots, a consequence of the economic downturn. But we also have a mobilized movement of individuals interested in feeding people, especially those without access to healthy fruits and vegetables (many of whom reside in cities). But connecting these dots is sometimes more complicated than it seems.

As urban farming takes hold across the nation, reviving old school ways of supporting communities with homegrown food, it will inevitably bump into resistance in the form of outdated laws and legislative confusion around this up and coming issue, in addition to complaints by neighbors who don't see the value in having a farm nearby when there are still packed shelves at the supermarket. These neighbors worry about their views, are disturbed by farm animal noises and deposits, and fear property value declines, which have more to do with economics than kale.

These anticipated problems now have a face -- Bad Seed Farm is at the center of a neighborhood zoning debate in Kansas City, Missouri. The farm is run by two forward thinking young agriculturalists, Brooke Salvaggio and her husband Dan Heryer, both age 27, who pulled up a half acre of her grandfather's lawn (with his blessing) to plant their urban farm. The two provide local organic produce to city residents via their storefront farmer's market and run a popular CSA. But the farm is located in a more affluent section of the city, where it could be viewed as "rubbing up against the suburban ideal" of perfectly manicured lawns, said Katherine Kelly, Executive Director of the Kansas City Center for Urban Agriculture. "As more people get into urban agriculture, it becomes more visible to the neighbors," said Kelly. "As [urban farming] becomes a business... people start having opinions about it."

Bad Seed is one of around fifty urban farms in greater Kansas City, where almost 22% of inhabitants were living below the poverty line in 2007, and unemployment jumped around 5 points (to 13.1% in Kansas City, KS, and 10.4% in Kansas City, MO) in the last year. This particular case has brought to the fore an issue which is bound to come up again and again as growing food changes the cityscape: how do we value urban land, and what are the existing laws on the books that keep urban agriculture from flourishing and feeding locals?

Kelly took part in a meeting with some of the legislators and the Bad Seed farmers this morning. Prior to the meeting, the urban farmers had been warned that they could be in violation of a zoning law that states that no business can be conducted in a residential zone. Technically, Salvaggio and Heryer should be exempt as they only sell produce through their storefront farm stand nearby. But the law is not nuanced enough and so is open for interpretation in the case of growing produce. The house on the property serves as the primary use of the land, a residence. Today, the legislators clarified that as long as Salvaggio and Heryer are the only two farming on their land, their urban farm will be considered an accessory use, instead of a competing primary use. Though restrictive (no volunteers, specific delivery hours to follow, etc) this is great news.

The Kansas City Center for Urban Agriculture is working on re-writing the code with city council members to more clearly accommodate urban farming, in an era when more and more unemployed people, hunger advocates and beginning farmers are looking for just these kinds of opportunities to grow in urban settings.

"I think this is a sign of the maturing of the urban agriculture movement," Kelly said. "Urban farming is part of a a new emerging definition of the city... We are eager to work with planning and development officials to develop new codes addressing urban agriculture."

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It's good to see things like this actually happening for once.
apparently it's happening in few places. i read something else a while ago, but can't find it now.

i would if i could.
I would like to hear more of this sort of thing.
Here are a few urban farming pics for those who would like them. There possible future urban farms.


And a link to more beautiful concepts.
Those are amazing. Thanks!
Your welcome

Did you see the painting of American Gothic the artist put in the first pic?
Not at first, but I see it now. That's hilarious.
I really like those images- they remind me of the Arcologies from Simcity 2000, a concept of urban planning that I have always been fascinated by. I think that, as the world gets more crowded and the cost of fuel makes interstate shipping of food more expensive, we are going to start seeing a lot more restructuring of communities to produce and consume local food. I have a lot of respect for homeowners who are able to take the initiative and do it themselves.

As I prepare for five days of announcements next week, when USDA plans to unveil its new “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative, the buzz across my desk is about the potential for urban agriculture.

EPA reminds that brownfield moneys can be used to convert polluted land into working farms in inner-city areas. I saw the excellent film “The Garden,” documenting the destruction of the largest community farm in the U.S. (South Central LA) in 2006. Will and Erika Allen are coming to Minnesota again. Over breakfast, friends asked about the potential for urban food production.

I think the potential is enormous, especially in formerly industrial cities, where the big factories are not going to come back, but there are large tracts of vacant land that already have water mains (think irrigation) running under them. Each of these cities spends billions of dollars for food, and can generate significant local income by building the farms and distribution channels needed to cycle that food within city borders. We’ll also need to grow new urban farmers, and tap the excellent skills that many new immigrants already have in growing food.

Hoping the USDA will focus next week on turning urban lands into productive farms, I’ve finished revising a brief resource guide for urban agriculture I handed out at the Urban Extension Educators conference when I spoke there in May. Let me know if this is useful, or how to improve it!

Did you know that forty-one percent of all U.S. agricultural commodities are sold from farms in metropolitan counties?

Were you aware that 55% of the money made from producing farm commodities was made in metropolitan areas in 2007 ($15.7 billion of $28.7 billion)?

Moreover, Department of Defense studies show that Victory Gardens during World War II produced 40% of all produce consumed by Americans, after two seasons of gardening. This shows the potential for small-scale activity adding up to a big difference.

This is all part of a bigger shift that America, and USDA, are going to need to make—to focus on food, people, and communities, rather than primarily on commodities. That, in fact, is the theme of this year’s Community Food Security Coalition Conference in Des Moines from October 10-13—“From Commodities to Communities.”

and this

New film ‘Earth Days’ takes a sometimes-devastating look at the history of environmental activism
The Garden: A Film, A Call to Action

* Eating Culture
* Grow Your Own

May 11th, 2009 By Naomi Starkman

Last week, I sat riveted at the Horticultural Society of New York while watching a screening of the 2008 Oscar-nominated documentary, The Garden, a tour de force that pits a 14-acre community garden in South Central Los Angeles, run by mostly Latin American immigrants, against a wealthy developer with questionable city ties. A powerful treatise on power and racial discord, The Garden tells the story of farmers who organize to fight back against backroom deals to try and save their green urban oasis. [spoiler alert] Read More


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