Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Urban Omnibus » Five Borough Farm

Five Borough Farm is a project of the Design Trust for Public Space, in partnership with Added Value, to create the first citywide, comprehensive urban agriculture plan for New York City. Over the course of this year, the Five Borough Farm team will be evaluating the city’s existing urban agriculture activity, establishing a set of metrics by which to quantify the benefits of urban agriculture and creating policy recommendations for relevant city agencies. The project officially kicked off in December with a half-day workshop that tapped the minds and expertise of 90 urban farmers and urban agriculture advocates. Two people have been selected by the Design Trust to lead the effort: Nevin Cohen and Rupal Sanghvi. Sanghvi, who specializes in program evaluation and public health, is the project’s Metrics Fellow and therefore is responsible for quantifying and measuring the impact of urban agriculture on the city and its residents. Nevin Cohen, an urban food policy expert and chair of Environmental Studies at the New School, is the Policy Fellow, which makes him responsible for surveying the existing urban agriculture landscape in New York City and identifying new opportunities and recommendations.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Chicago's Urban Agriculture Zoning Proposal

Growing Home, Inc.
On December 8, 2010, Chicago Mayor Daley introduced legislation to add community gardens and commercial urban farms to the city’s zoning ordinance. If adopted by the Chicago City Council, gardens and farms would become legal land uses within the city limits provided that they meet the requirements outlined in the zoning ordinance with respect to size, location, and operational parameters.

To many urban agriculture practitioners in Chicago, the new language provides certainty for the first time that community gardens and commercial farms are legal land uses within the city. Others fear that the proposed changes unduly restrict the scale of urban agriculture ventures and impose onerous restrictions that will make their businesses – and future larger scale urban agriculture ventures -- untenable. The debate that will unfold in Chicago over the next month, as the city’s aldermen hold hearings on the proposal, is no different than discussions about the role of urban agriculture in city life that are being carried out in communities across North America.