- Reintroduce agriculture into the established core in a variety of formats, from the single residential lot to large commercial and mixed use developments
- Increase community access to locally-grown foods.
Urban Agriculture: The growing, processing and distribution of food crops and animal products – by and for the local community – within an urban environment.
During the latter half of the 20th century, agriculture was pushed farther and farther away from the consumer. However, improvements in technology and how we understand our own food chain have changed how we view farming. As communities in America rediscover mixed-use development, that mix of uses is beginning to include farming. There is a wide array of motivations behind that rediscovery of agriculture:
- More people are seeking healthier and more environmentally-friendly alternatives to processed foods;
- The “Farm to Table” movement is gaining steam as a way to support locally-sourced, fresh food;
- The vast number of large, aging strip centers in cities demands a variety of options for redevelopment – urban ag is a use that can fill many of those empty or under-performing spaces;
- Advancements in agricultural technology mean that food can be grown in a wide variety of environments, and in spaces large or small;
- Agriculture offers an opportunity to create an alternative sector of job growth and economic development, further diversifying the local economy.
Examples of urban agriculture:
- Backyard gardening of edible landscapes, which primarily provide food products for an individual household
- Community gardening, which is maintained communally in public space
- Rooftop gardening
- Urban production of food crops sold in local markets
- High-tech aquaponics and hydroponic operations in large adaptive-reuse centers.
- Increased recreation and socializing in neighborhoods
- Enhanced neighborhood attractiveness
- Increased access to healthy, cheap produce for families, while lowering pollution impact from transportation and waste products
- Additional open areas, nutrition or job training for children and community gathering spaces
- Economic revitalization through the use of vacant land and the potential to use urban agriculture for nonprofit programs and small businesses
One of the first steps is ensuring that the urban agriculture movement is supported by local ordinance. The City has been moving in that direction by updating zoning, and should continue to bring regulations in line with new initiatives like Farm-to-Table. Likewise, look for external partners like the Food Bank of North Alabama to help advance creative approaches to modernizing and localizing our food supply.
Review and revise commercial/mixed-use zoning to allow and encourage agriculture as a component of mixed-use redevelopment.
Review and revise residential zoning to support small-scale agriculture.