Now that the urban farming movement is becoming steadily more mature, cities are looking beyond backyard hens and market gardens to longer-term agricultural land use policies. They can and should learn from what works in other places while also advocating for better public policy at every level.
These were the messages conveyed at a forum on urban agriculture
that was held last week at Cleveland State University. Kimberly Hodgson
, a planner and public health advocate from Vancouver, Canada, said that Cleveland is considered a leader in the new agrarian movement, but that U.S. and Canadian cities have much to learn from each other.
Baltimore completed a study to prioritize and focus urban agriculture in needed areas, Hodgson told an audience of 100-plus planners, farmers, students and lawyers. Minneapolis conducted an analysis to determine which parcels of land have low value for development and would thus be appropriate for urban farming.
The goal of such plans, Hodgson said, is generally to promote and support equal access to urban farming and gardening, create economic opportunity for residents, reduce regulatory barriers to farming and expand agricultural production.
Other examples Hodgson cited included Vancouver, which has developed urban agriculture design guidelines, and Baltimore, which hired a Food Policy Director using money raised from area foundations. Within six months, the new Director had leveraged enough money on her own to fund the position without subsidy.
Source: Kimberly Hodgson
Writer: Lee Chilcote