Originally appearing on Minnesota Public Radio online – “Mpls. passes plan to expand urban farming” – by Madeleine Baran
St. Paul, Minn. — A plan to expand urban farming in Minneapolis received final approval from the city council and Mayor R.T. Rybak on Friday.
The Urban Agriculture Policy Plan opens the door for farmers to use land for commercial farms. It also recommends incorporating urban agriculture into the city’s long-range planning efforts. As part of the plan, the city will review its land inventory to look for places to grow food.
“I think it’s a big step forward,” said City Council member Cam Gordon, a key supporter of the plan. “It’s going to allow commercial growing in the city and really create a local food economy.”
Local food advocates said the plan was needed in part because the city lacked zoning codes for market gardens or urban farms. They said that made it impossible to create innovative local food ventures. The council still needs to formally approve the changes to the zoning code, but city planner Amanda Arnold said she expects that to happen by the end of the year.
The plan is part of Homegrown Minneapolis, a broader effort to strengthen the local food movement. Over the past two years, the city has created community gardens on city-owned lots, developed mini-farmers markets in urban areas, and led workshops on canning food.