Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Baltimore Seeks Urban Farmers

The Baltimore City Department of Planning and the Department of Housing and Community Development issued a Request for Qualifications to farm city-owned vacant land.  Those applicants deemed qualified will be able to lease city property for up to five years with an option to renew.  Baltimore expects to lease 35 acres of land in parcels one acre and larger.

The City’s goals include: (1) establishing urban farms that use sustainable practices; (2) increasing access to healthy, affordable food; (3) improving environmental conditions on or around vacant land; (4) improving the aesthetics and property values surrounding the farms, and providing job training and employment opportunities; (5) to provide incremental tax revenues and other financial benefits to the city; and (6) to create opportunities for Minority and Women-owned businesses.

Baltimore’s proactive approach differs from the actions of Detroit officials, who are moving more tentatively in response to proposals for large-scale agriculture by private entrepreneurs and non-profit organizations.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Grown in the City - 5 Questions with Dr. Nevin Cohen – The Five Borough Farm Project, Food Systems in Academia, and More

This week’s interview is with Dr. Nevin Cohen - an Assistant Professor and Chair of Environmental Studies at The New School, where he teaches courses in urban planning and food systems.  Dr. Cohen’s current research focuses on urban food policy, particularly innovative planning strategies to support food production in the urban and peri-urban landscape, public policies to engage citizens in sustainable food production, urban planning and food access, and civic agriculture in cities and suburbs. He has a Ph.D. in Urban Planning from Rutgers University, a Masters in City and Regional Planning from Berkeley, and a BA from Cornell.  He runs the website urbanfoodpolicy.com and you can follow him on twitter @urbanfoodpolicy.

To read more, see:
Grown in the City » Blog Archive » 5 Questions with Dr. Nevin Cohen – The Five Borough Farm Project, Food Systems in Academia, and More

Friday, March 11, 2011

Agricultural Urbanism Project Falters

Southlands is a 538-acre tract of land south of Vancouver that has been the subject of contentious public hearings to decide whether it should be developed or returned to the province’s agricultural land reserve – or be turned into what planners at HB Lanarc have called “agricultural urbanism,” a mixed use residential, commercial, and farming subdivision.  The outcome of an ongoing public consultation process (the next public hearing is scheduled for April 14) will determine the fate of the property and, to some extent, the public’s view of these kinds of mixed use projects.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

New Generation of Farmers Emerges in Oregon

One of the challenges for mid-size farms, the so-called agriculture of the middle, is how to transition farmland to a new generation of farmers. It is heartening to see young people excited by food production, but we need to develop policies and programs to help them learn sustainable and profitable farming techniques, gain access to manageable parcels of farmland, and have a pathway to acquire larger farms if they wish to grow their operations.  See today's NY Times article for inspiration:

Prairie Crossing, Grayslake, IL
An interesting model for nurturing new farmers is Prairie Crossing, a farmland subdivision on a commuter line from Chicago that boasts 40 acres of organic farmland amidst single family homes, with "training parcels" for prospective new farmers. Another model is NYC's New Farmer Development Project, which helps recent immigrants who have farming experience gain access to farmland in the New York metropolitan area as well as retail space at one of the city's Greenmarkets.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Minneapolis Advances Urban Agriculture Planning

Minneapolis is on its way toward adopting a new comprehensive urban agriculture policy plan.  Last Tuesday, February 22, the Minneapolis City Planning Commission moved to recommend that the City Council adopt the proposed plan. The next step is for a subcommittee of the City  Council to discuss the plan on March 24th, and if voted out of committee to be considered by the entire Council.