A recently proposed ordinance in Richmond, California, would make it easier for urban farmers and gardeners to sell produce within the community. The ordinance would specify what kind of plants and animals residents can raise and sell with the property permits, which is not clearly outlined in existing laws.
The Richmond City Council is considering a proposed urban agriculture ordinance to set clear rules for what food and animals can be farmed within city limits. Currently, city zoning regulations prohibit urban farmers from growing food in vacant lots, front yards or city parks. The proposed legislation would allow urban gardeners to grow items legally outside of their backyards, and sell produce at temporary farmstands once they purchase a city business license.
According to KALW Public Radio, the proposed ordinance must be analyzed under the “Health in All Policies” guidelines to ensure the law will positively impact the health of residents. Because many Richmond residents do not have access to enough affordable fruits and vegetables, an ordinance to boost urban farming capabilities would be viewed as an asset to the community.
Bay Area Movement
Many residents of Richmond and nearby communities participate in urban farming initiatives such as Urban Tilth and Happy Lot Farm and Garden that aim to grow fresh fruits and vegetables, and provide healthy foods to local organizations such as schools and businesses. By enabling these community-based organizations to produce locally-sourced, sustainable food, residents and institutions can access healthy produce for less.
Urban Tilth and other similar organizations boost sustainable food production in local communities by:
- Growing fruits and vegetables
- Training and employing young residents
- Teaching local residents how urban farming impacts the economy
- Engaging with local institutions when selling fruits and vegetables
By increasing awareness and accessibility, these organizations hope to improve the health and wellness of local residents in the Bay Area.
Urban Farming Goes Indoors
Urban farmers enjoy a longer growing season in California and other warm-weather climates. In cities such as Chicago, however, urban gardeners are revamping abandoned warehouses to enable year-long farms through harsh winters.
The International Business Times reported the increasing demand for locally-grown food in cities like Chicago has created a movement known as vertical farming. Urban farmers take empty buildings and equip them with hydroponic and aquaponic technology to grow fruits and vegetables 12 months a year. Because of the way the food is grown indoors and away from external threats, these urban farms are able to grow 200 percent more food per square foot than conventional farms.
According to the Association of Vertical Farming, urban farmers using vertical farming methods use 98 percent less water and 70 percent less fertilizer than outdoor farms. These urban farmers are able to continually produce food without dealing with severe weather challenges or soil management obligations. Crops are harvested 20 times a year while taking up minimal space, as the crops grow stacked one above the other.