By Scott Koepke
IOWA: I walk my dog past the corner of Prairie Du Chien Road and North Dodge Street almost every day. At that corner is a 2.38 parcel for sale that is zoned Residential S-8. As an urban agriculture advocate, I can’t help but drool over the potential food that could be produced in that space.
Although the future owner of this property could perhaps appeal for a mixed or multiple use status, this plot is sadly one of many examples in Iowa City of greenspace where the zoning designation and landscaping ordinances prohibit urban farming designs.
Iowa City is on the wrong side of history in this regard. A quick Google search on “urban farming ordinances” will yield results on several cities throughout the country where local food production is encouraged rhetorically, legally and financially.
As a citizenry, we need to rethink some definitions. “The farm” is not something “out there.” In can be right here in town at corners like Prairie Du Chien and North Dodge.
That doesn’t mean that cattle are roaming the streets. It means that people can grow, and sell off of their property, dozens and dozens of varieties of vegetables, grains, legumes, fruit, nuts, herbs and flowers. It means largescale composting operations from restaurant vegetable scraps. It means season-extending greenhouses. It means food freedom and food security. It means building community.
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