Cultivation Meets Regulation: Bay Area Urban Agriculture

By Twilight Greenaway
Civil Eats

San Francisco urban agriculture advocates are rejoicing after the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted last week to amend the zoning code to allow small-scale commercial farming in areas previously deemed residential.The shift will allow farming enterprises under an acre in size to grow and sell produce within city limits without an expensive conditional use permit (CUP) (previously around $3,000) or a lengthy bureaucratic process. Little City Gardens, the only for-profit farm in San Francisco, has been engaged in a year-long process with the San Francisco Urban Agriculture Alliance (SFUAA) and the Mayor’s office to draft new legislation for urban agriculture and shepherd it through the approval process. The cost of a permit is now only $300 and urban farmers will also be allowed to sell value-added products such as jams, salsa, and herb salts along with produce they grow.

Little City Gardens—whose farm near in the Mission Terrace neighborhood has earned a great deal of community support—has already announced plans for a CSA subscription program on their website. “Each week the box will include a bag of salad greens, cooking greens, roots, and herbs, as well as some form of communication (newsletter, artwork, recipe, etc) related to either the produce or the farm in general,” the site reads.

Although no one else appears ready to take advantage of the ruling just yet, Dana Perls, co-coordinator of the SFUAA, told the SF Weekly she thinks “this will have a trickle-down impact on people who work at Alemany [Farm] or Hayes Valley [Farm] who’ll be much more likely to farm their own land.”

Nonprofit urban farming groups also have the potential to have a larger impact on their communities, thanks to the new legislation. As SFUAA co-coordinator Antonio Roman-Alcalá wrote in a recent article here on Civil Eats, “Should for-benefit (i.e., non-profit) farm projects seek to raise some of their operating funds through sales, including of value-added products, this will now be allowed. This could also open the door for social justice-minded urban farms to create truly green jobs without requiring so much grant funding.”

Read full post at Civil Eats

4 responses to “Cultivation Meets Regulation: Bay Area Urban Agriculture

  1. Another small wave of the growing groundswell of public common sense coming up to meet government by Monsanto. The future of this movement should be very interesting, lets pray it turns into a nice, great big fat, sky scraper topping, fast traveling, unstoppable tsunami heading strait for Washington, DC. Doc Blake

  2. grandpappymike

    A $300 permit to grow food for your community seems a bit much, like $300 too much.

  3. Didacus Ramos

    The point is not the price of a permit or intrusive government. (To the Tea Party-ites: Kinmg George is dead. We need to get to America 2011.) So, how should urban agriculture–specifically urban commercial farming be handled?
    I believe it should be a simple by-right land use in all zones of the city. No permit or CUP required. The benefits are numerous–refer to the article for those details–for both people and the land.
    Problems that might arise are the same as would arise from any venture–smell, noise, people. And, those issues are easily addressed as nuisances (same as dog barking, lawnmowing too early, or garbage that was not picked up).
    Here’s for local food grown locally and sold locally at farmers’ markets for local communitoes.

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