Mpls plan promotes urban ag

A new plan would allow urban farmers to sell produce locally.

by Andre Eggert

Kirsten Saylor has done something that few parents have ever accomplished âÄî her children enjoying eating their vegetables.
Through the Dowling Community Garden in Minneapolis, Saylor has grown several varieties of broccoli and carrots that she and her family relish.
âÄúMy oldest eats broccoli like nobodyâÄôs business,âÄù she said.
Community gardens and the prospects of urban agriculture are looking promising for Minneapolis, where the practice has been gaining city support. On Thursday, the public will be able to review and comment on the Urban Agricultural Policy Plan draft.
The draft deals primarily with land use, setting a policy framework that encourages and makes changes to zoning for urban farming, Minneapolis city planner Amanda Arnold said. It would change city regulations to allow farmers to sell their produce.
Having green space and promoting gardening is healthy for the environment and citizens, Saylor said.
âÄúWeâÄôve become very disconnected as a society from âĦ what food is,âÄù she said. âÄúThe growing of food is a really important way for us to understand how we live impacts the earth.âÄù
The plan emerged two years ago when Homegrown Minneapolis âÄî a city program that promotes consumption of healthy, locally grown food âÄî was launched.
Through Homegrown Minneapolis, the city has made several changes to policy, including allowing beekeeping and indoor famers markets and requiring corner markets to carry at least five varieties of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Community gardens have also been part of the plan.
More than 100 community gardens, totaling more than 18 acres, are used in Minneapolis. The city made 18 plots available in the past year, and five of them are being leased, said June Mathiowetz, coordinator for Homegrown Minneapolis.
The city is currently planning to launch a âÄúlocal food resource networkâÄù for Minneapolis residents. For a membership fee, residents get access to seeds, seedlings, gardening tools and classes on the best practices, Mathiowetz said.
Children benefit from the urban agriculture plan as well, Mathiowetz said, by learning about plants and having human interaction with them.
âÄú[We] need places in our lives where we can get down and dirty,âÄù she said. âÄúKids need a place to interact with the soil.âÄù
Urban agriculture is healthier and more sustainable than mass production of food, Saylor said, and the recent contamination of food with E. coli is an example of this.
âÄúThatâÄôs what happens when you have an industrial agriculture,âÄù Saylor said. âÄúAs a country, we need to rethink how we do our food, and urban ag is one of the ways to address that.âÄù