Second Ward, Minneapolis

This is the public policy forum of Minneapolis Second Ward (Green) City Council Member Cam Gordon and his staff. We use this space to talk about some of what Cam’s working on, explain his positions, and share a little of what life in City Hall is like. Please feel free to comment on posts, within certain ground rules. See our disclaimer, including ground rules, here:

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Urban Ag Unanimously Passes Council

We did it!

This morning, the Urban Agriculture Text Amendments passed the Council unanimously.

The issues that we’ve been working through in the last few weeks all went well: hoop houses at urban farms, market gardens, community gardens, schools and large apartment buildings will be able to be 12’ tall. Market gardeners will be able to sell directly to customers from their sites for 15 days per year. Market gardeners and urban farmers will not be required to get soil tests and post signs indicating whatever soil contamination they find.

But we need to take a step back from these smaller victories, as important as they are, and note the major victory we won today: for the first time since 1963, people will be allowed to grow food commercially in the City of Minneapolis. Commercial growing will be allowed on a large scale at urban farms in industrial districts, and on a smaller scale at market gardens in low-density residential areas. People will even be allowed to grow food commercially in their own backyards. Aquaponics and aquaculture will be allowed at urban farms. Arbors, trellises and raised planting beds will be clearly allowed. Cold frames and hoop houses are now OK. Farmers markets will be able to leave their signs up all year long.

This is a major step forward for the local food movement in Minneapolis. It is a big, big deal.

A few people were absolutely essential to getting this done. Aly Pennucci and Amanda Arnold in Planning can’t be thanked enough – they did the work to push this through. June Mathiowetz was essential to not only these amendments but to all the other Homegrown work that has been going on at the same time. Patty Bowler and the rest of the Health Department found the funding for the Urban Agriculture Policy Plan that made this change in the law possible.

But most of the credit goes to the community: members of the Food Council, local growers and eaters, everyone who testified at the public hearing at the Planning Commission, wrote your Council Members (and encouraged your friends to do the same). You made this happen.


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