Thursday, October 22, 2009

Discussing the future of urban agriculture in KC

Posted By on Thu, Oct 22, 2009 at 11:15 AM

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First, a disclosure, my wife and I are one of the four community supported agriculture (CSA) members at Bad Seed Farm. As such, we have a vested interest in seeing Bad Seed succeed.

Urban farmers, community leaders and city officials gathered before a crowd of close to 100 people at Bad Seed Farm's downtown market space on Tuesday night to discuss the process for potentially changing the development code in Kansas City.

"We need to look at urban agriculture as a potential solution to problems in the city, whether it's the use of vacant lots, the greening effort, or health issues," said Daniel Heryer, who runs Bad Seed Farm with his wife, Brooke Salvaggio.

Katherine Kelly, the director of the Kansas City Center for Urban Agriculture, acted as moderator at the community meeting, which was designed to seek input and find community advocates willing to serve on an urban agriculture steering committee tasked with drafting an amendment to the current ordinance that governs zoning and development.

"Ideally we'll come up with templates that will serve as a model for other municipalities," said Kelly of the committee, which will have a separate subcommittee on raising livestock in an urban or suburban setting.

City officials candidly discussed the reasons why Bad Seed Farm was

issued citations for violating the current development code, while also

recognizing that this issue requires the code to be updated.

"The

irony is that you have someone living on a property and taking care of

it, where somebody right now could go into a vacant lot and start

farming and they don't have to care what the property looks like," said

Patty Noll, an urban planner in the City Planning and Development Department.

Noll

will sit on the steering committee as a representative of the city. She

was part of a large contingent of public officials who were on hand to

answer questions and address concerns, including representatives of

Animal Control and Tom Coyle, the director of City Planning and

Development. 

"The timing of this could not be better. Our

agenda called for looking at the code in September and here we are

meeting in October - that's pretty quick in government terms. We're

looking at something that can happen in 90 days from getting a code

drafted to a public hearing," said Coyle.

Councilman John

Sharp, who referred to Bad Seed Farm as "asset to his district,"

suggested that the city might begin addressing the issue even sooner.

"This

will be one of the recommendations from the mayor's New Tools Task

Force, that urban agriculture can help to stimulate and rejuvenate

neighborhoods," said Sharp, noting that the New Tools recommendations

could be before the City Council today.

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