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Creating a framework to encourage urban agriculture in Minneapolis

As part of a broader effort to encourage healthy eating and local food growing, the city of Minneapolis is crafting an Urban Agriculture Policy Plan, which it's asking for public feedback on via a couple of community meetings this month.  

The plan deals with land use, zoning codes, access to land, and design as it pertains to urban agriculture, according to city information.

It's an extension of Homegrown Minneapolis, another initiative that the city started in 2008 to "improve the growth, sales, distribution, and consumption of healthy, locally grown foods within the city," the program's webpage reads.

The plan outlines various recommendations for zoning changes that would allow for commercial food growing and full-fledged urban farming, explains city planner Amanda Arnold.  

For instance, it calls for urban farms in industrial areas and in certain commercial districts; allowing market gardens to be located on rooftops and the ground, and setting maximum lot areas so that market gardens fit into neighborhoods.   

Other recommendations emphasize urban agriculture in long-range planning and in conjunction with new development, as part of the landscaping.  

In general, she says, "The idea is to make it more feasible for growing in the city."

A number of other cities around the country, she says, are undergoing similar initiatives to address the growing trend toward urban agriculture. Seattle recently revised some aspects of its zoning code to allow for more local growing and Chicago is in the middle of doing the same thing. Meanwhile, urban farming has caught on in Milwaukee, Detroit, and Cleveland, according to Arnold.  

"Efforts around the country vary a lot," she says, adding that although the concept has been around for a long time, "I think the formalization and promotion of urban agriculture is a recent movement."   

The plan will go before the City Council in February.

Source: Amanda Arnold, Principal Planner, City of Minneapolis, Department of Community Planning and Economic Development
Writer: Anna Pratt

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