Jonathan Bender wrote this post on Fat City earlier today.
A steering committee organized to identify the key issues around urban agriculture in the Kansas City, Missouri, metro area -- the result of an public forum on October 22 -- met for the first time on Monday night at the Nutter Ivanhoe Neighborhood Center in midtown.
"We want to revise the codes of Kansas City, Missouri, to be more supportive of urban farming and lay out a pathway that other municipalities can follow, said Katherine Kelly, director of the Kansas City Center for Urban Agriculture.
Over the course of an hour and 45 minutes, 37 farmers, community
activists, and residents sat down to discuss the realities of farming
in Kansas City and what needs to change with regard to the current code.
"While we're talking about traffic or the potential blight of farm stands, that's not a reality yet. Nobody has seen the reality of a greener city and there might not be any issues with it. We are not advocating for industrialized agriculture in this city," said Brooke Salvaggio, co-owner of Bad Seed Farm.
The meeting -- led by the KCCUA and the Greater KC Food Policy Coalition
-- focused exclusively on the issue of produce and farming practices, a
separate subcommittee will be meeting to address livestock on urban
farms. In a freewheeling discussion, participants offered up a variety
of suggestions for how the city could promote urban agriculture.
"The problem is to define urban farming without stifling it or adding another layer of bureaucracy," said Dan Heryer, Salvaggio's husband, who co-owns Bad Seed.
suggested that new trees planted by the city in neighborhoods could be
fruit or nut trees, land could be designated for agricultural purposes
similar to park land, organic practices could be mandated for urban
farms, and changes to the zoning code could provide guidance for
"I'm hoping to more availability and
enthusiasm for local food in Kansas City -- seeing a code that allows
growers to sell and connect with potential buyers, then local food will
grow all on it's own," said Rachel Hogan, who recently completed a
year-long internship on a series of organic farms in Missouri and is
looking to help develop community gardens in Kansas City.
Following a lengthy brainstorming session, the group identified five
core issues that need to be addressed in reforming the current
development code: selling produce at the site of a farm, regulations
regarding employees or volunteers, growing on other people's property,
nuisance control (composting, signage, and farm apparatus), and
addressing the concerns of neighborhoods.
"We understand and
we want to get this done, so you [addressed to the farmers in the room]
can get started on spring planning," said Patty Noll, an urban planner
in the City Planning and Development Department.
After the steering committee recommends a course of action, Noll's
office would draft a revision to the code. If it is
approved by the City Plan Commission -- a board consisting of eight
residents that meets on the first and third Tuesdays of every month --
then it will be considered by the City Council Planning and Zoning
Committee. Noll estimated that it would take a minimum of six weeks for
steering committee will attempt to reach out to neighborhood
associations in the coming weeks and distribute educational information
online and via informational pamphlets.
"This is an issue of
education. We've just got to work with neighborhood leaders to identify
concerns and come up with an enforceable code that is as common sense
and simple as possible," said Noll.
The group is set to meet again on November 18 at the Nutter Ivanhoe Neighborhood Center.
*I have been a member of the Community Supported Agriculture program at Bad Seed Farm for the past two years.
Image via Flick: addictive picasso.