A Chance to Advance Urban Ag in Mpls. on Jan. 23

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By Anna Cioffi, Land Stewardship Project
On Monday, Jan. 23, there will be a public hearing of the Minneapolis Planning Commission to discuss proposed draft changes to the zoning code as it pertains to urban agriculture. LSP supports the passage of these draft changes as a first step. However, there are still improvements that could be included to make urban farming economically viable for a wider range of more people.

LSP applauds the City of Minneapolis for the strides it’s made in incorporating urban agriculture as a legal land use in the zoning code by passing the Urban Agriculture Policy Plan in April 2011. The integration of urban agriculture in Minneapolis will create jobs, spur small business generation, and create healthier neighborhoods with more access to fresh, local foods.

This is an important first step toward making urban agriculture a key part of our community. However, in order to make urban agriculture as economically viable as possible for small businesses, some key changes are essential:

  1. Allow on-site sale days at all market gardens.
    LSP supports the decision to allow market gardens 25 on-site sale days throughout the year. We also encourage the city to allow on-site sales of produce that is raised as part of a home occupation (in your own backyard). This would cut down on transportation and packaging costs for the producer, as well as make fresh produce available in more neighborhoods.
  2.  Less restrictive regulations for hoop houses and season extension.
    Under current zoning rules, hoop houses that are used as a means to extend the growing season are only allowed to remain standing for 180 days and to comprise only 15 percent of the entire plot. In order to make efficient use of season extension, LSP would like to see the amount of time that hoop houses can remain standing increased to 260 days a year. They should also be allowed to take up as much as 50 percent of the plot space.
  3. Allowing chickens on urban farms.
    Farmers keep poultry for a variety of reasons, including using them as integrated pest management tools and a source of soil fertility, as well as to attract visitors and potential customers. In an urban setting, poultry are critical to small-scale farms that would benefit from these diversified uses. Not only would poultry serve an ecological purpose, but their eggs could also be sold to generate additional revenue. A good Urban Agriculture Policy Plan must allow poultry production on small-scale farms in the city.

What you can do: Make a comment on the urban ag draft text amendments by Monday, Jan. 23
Please take a moment to send a comment via email to Aly Pennucci, Planner for the City of Minneapolis, about these draft changes. A sample comment can be:

“I support moving the Urban Ag Text Amendments forward. This is a great first step toward making urban farming an economically viable occupation for residents of Minneapolis. However, I support changing language to allow produce raised in a market garden being done as a home occupation to be sold on-site. Also, I would like to see hoop houses remain standing for longer, and be able to take up as much as 50 percent of lot space. And I would like to see poultry allowed on urban farms.”

Attend Land Stewardship Project’s planning meeting on Sunday, Jan. 22, to discuss strategy regarding passage of the draft
The Land Stewardship Project will be hosting a planning meeting this Sunday, beginning at 7 p.m., at our office in the Powderhorn Park neighborhood. Hear more about the text amendments, and learn about how to make comments at the public meeting on Monday.

Come to the public hearing on Monday and speak in favor of the draft and suggested changes
Attend the public hearing on Monday, Jan. 23, and be prepared to comment on the draft text amendments. We need to pack the house in order to show our support for urban farming in the City of Minneapolis. It’s in Room 317 at City Hall.

For more information, call or e-mail LSP’s Anna Cioffi at 612-722-6377.

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