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Stone's Throw Urban Farm plans to expand in coming year

Stone’s Throw Urban Farm, which is working to redefine local sustainable food, will expand its territory next year.

The farm was formed this fall through the merger of Uptown Farmers and Concrete Beet Farmers in Minneapolis and Pig’s Eye Urban Farm in St. Paul.  

The merger made sense because the farms shared similar beliefs and farming practices, according to Stone’s Throw farmer Alex Liebman.

“We want to sustain those business practices and we hope we do a better job because we’re more focused with our energy and time,” he says.  

Right now the farm is trying to acquire enough land to make the business financially viable--to the extent that it can pay its workers a living wage, he says.

Besides the practical financial benefits, “We all sort of were becoming good friends and sharing resources,” he says. “It’s a win-win for all of us.”

In 2012, the farm plans to convert up to 10 vacant lots in St. Paul into farmland, along with a handful of other properties in Minneapolis.

“It’s an ongoing process to try to get vacant lots and find out if the landowners are receptive to the idea of beautifying it and growing vegetables.”   

Securing land for the long term is another objective they’ll be tackling going forward.   

Liebman is optimistic about some zoning changes being discussed that will “allow us to become a legitimate land use in the city,” he says.

The changes will help farms get established in the Twin Cities. As it is, farms operate in a gray area, he says. With the new zoning rules, which still need to be approved, “There’s more legal clarity about what we can and can’t do.”  
Although the urban farm scene is “small and intimate,” there’s a lot of excitement about the practice, with a number of nonprofit initiatives, school programs, and community gardens doing good work.

“Any time you’re converting forsaken lots into beautiful productive spaces it’s a good thing for the community,” Liebman says, adding, “And you’re producing food that stays in the Twin Cities.”

Source: Alex Liebman, Stone’s Throw Urban Farm
Writer: Anna Pratt
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