Urban Agriculture Policy Needs Support
The Urban Agriculture Topical Plan that community advocates and I have been working on for months may be in trouble.
This plan is a key recommendation of the Homegrown Minneapolis initiative and an important step towards creating a more sustainable, healthy, and community-based economy in Minneapolis for the future.
Last week, the Zoning and Planning (or Z&P) committee postponed the Plan for two weeks, to give committee members time to craft amendments that threaten to weaken it. The Plan will come back before Z&P on April 7th, at 9:30am.
Judging from the questions and comments from committee members, it appears that some Council Members might be aiming to undermine the Plan, and erect unnecessary barriers to the growing more food in Minneapolis.
- Continuing to prohibit Market Gardening on residential parcels. One of the key recommendations of the Plan is to allow commercial, or market, gardens of the same small size and low intensity as community gardens to be put on residential parcels. Some Council Members appear to be interested in deleting this recommendation, which would mean that small-scale commercial food growing would be next to impossible in Minneapolis.
- Keeping the price of land sold by the City to community gardeners higher than its actual value. When the City sells land for green space, we often put a “conservation easement” on the property, which means that it can’t have a building built on it. This reduces the value of the land. But the City still charges a buyer the price without the conservation easement. The Plan recommends using the fair market value for the land with the easement. Some Council Members questioned this.
- Continuing to prevent City staff from even considering farmers markets or community gardens when selling City land. The Plan contains a recommendation to give City staff the option to do requests for proposals on City-owned land for urban agriculture uses like farmers markets and community gardens. Some Council Members questioned this.
Anyone who cares about creating a vibrant local-food economy in our city should call or email Council Members before April 7th and urge them to pass the Urban Agriculture Topical Plan in its current form, without amendments that will hurt the local food movement. You should also plan to attend the April 7th Zoning and Planning committee meeting, at 9:30am in room 317 of City Hall, 350 S 5th St.
To find your Ward and City Council Member go here.