By Anna Cioffi, Land Stewardship Project
Overall, the results of yesterday’s Minneapolis Zoning and Planning Committee hearing were good news for urban agriculture in the city. That’s especially true considering that going into the hearing there were concerns that severe restrictions would be imposed on the ability of urban farmers to carry out even basic agricultural and marketing practices.
Some important compromises were reached over the Urban Ag Text Amendments, compromises that will help make urban farming a key economic player in our neighborhoods. A lot of this is due to the work of the many urban farmers who turned out for meetings and contacted city officials about this meeting. I want to commend City Council Member Cam Gordan for hammering out rules that strike a good balance.
Specifically, compromises were struck in three key areas:
- 1) Market gardens are allowed to sell product for 15 days a year (not more than one day per week), down from the proposed 25 days per year. One proposal would have limited market days to two days a year.
- 2) Hoop houses can be 6.5 feet high on residential properties, which is an increase from a proposed amendment to limit height to 6 feet. This lower height would make it harder to gain access and would result in poor ventilation.
- 3) Recycled building materials can be used for constructing raised beds and other farming structures. One proposal would have banned the use of recycled materials.
The zoning and planning rules related to urban agriculture go before the full City Council for approval March 30.
There is still plenty of room for improvement in the zoning rules. For example, LSP’s members would like to see the number of allowable market days increased to at least 25 days, which was in the original urban agriculture plan proposal. Market days should also be allowed to take place more than one day a week. Increasing market days would allow market gardens to generate greater economic activity in the area.
This is an important first step and we will be watching how these rules are implemented and pushing for even more initiatives that can help urban ag live up to its potential in our community. Stay tuned…