Urban agriculture refers to the growing and raising of crops and livestock within a municipality’s boundaries for local consumption. Often the food is for the use of the grower but can also be produced on a larger scale for sharing with others or for sale. Urban agriculture also contributes to community resilience and reduces vehicle miles traveled (VMT) for food transport. Examples of zoning provisions allowing urban agriculture include the following:
On Jan 29, 2019 Santa Clara, CA approved development of townhomes and apartments within the city to include a 1.5 acre farm in which residents will grow their own food. Produce grown and consumed within the development avoids emissions associated with store-bought vegetables. The farm component aided community acceptance of badly needed housing and reduced commutes.
Cincinnati, OH and the Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council collaborated in 2019 to streamline and bring together urban agriculture policies located in several chapters of the zoning code. The result was a single chapter with agricultural provisions and updates made more accessible for residents and businesses. This chapter describes how gardens and farms can conform to regulations for composting food waste, keeping animals, selling products in residential districts, and operating equipment during certain hours, among other topics.
Following the 2015 closure of its first community garden, the Bedford, IN Parks and Recreation Department partnered with Live Well Lawrence County in 2017 to open another. The Bedford Urban Enterprise Association donated 3 acres of undeveloped land and start-up funding for the future Bedford Garden Park after being approached by the Department’s Director. Additional monies were garnered through crowdfunding and matching dollars from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority. A committee composed of Indiana University, Purdue University, and United Way designed the park and its community garden with input from the citizens.
In Boston, the Fenway Victory Gardens sits on a 7.5 acre plot within the city’s park system and is managed by an all-volunteer organization, the Fenway Garden Society. Originally established in 1942 and maintained by the Boston Parks and Recreation Department, the “victory garden” was created to encourage residents to grow their own vegetables as commercial crops were shifted to support military personnel during WWII. The Society requires members to follow the guidelines and regulations issued by the Boston Parks and Recreation Department such as hours the premises are open, maintenance of the grounds and paths, and restrictions on using hazardous materials. Membership is limited to Boston residents.
Reduce VMT by zoning to allow “agricultural open space” for food production and to reduced need for travel
Measurement: Net reduction in GHG in region compared to business as usual
Time to Implement:
- Santa Clara, CA: two years to amend zoning code (adopted in 2019); construction completion estimated for Q3 2023
- Cincinnati, OH: stakeholder meetings began in 2017; updated code adopted in 2019
- Boston, MA: in continuous use since 1942
- Bedford, IN: project started in 2016; initial gardens planted in 2017 with new park features added in 2018
Santa Clara project info and staff presentation
Agrihood Santa Clara – A Sustainable Community
Cincinnati, OH Amends Zoning Code to Support Urban Agriculture
Cincinnati Zoning Code, Chapter 1422 – Urban Agriculture: Horticulture and Animal Keeping
Bedford, Indiana Increases Access to Healthy Food and Spurs Neighborhood-level Change with
Fenway Victory Gardens
Development Review Officer, City of Santa Clara, CA
Senior City Planner, City of Cincinnati, OH
Program Manager, City of Cincinnati, OH
Director of Parks and Recreation, City of Bedford, IN