News & Updates

Mayor Menino Kicks Off Urban Agriculture Rezoning Process

Feb 02, 2012

Mayor Thomas M. Menino kicked off discussions Monday about what types of urban agriculture residents want in Boston at a launch event last night, joining more than 270 residents to discuss how to make urban farming a success in Boston.  These conversations will directly impact an update to the city’s zoning code to include different types of agricultural uses.  Urban agriculture is small scale farming that brings communities together, provides fresh and healthy food for sale to residents and local businesses, is an effective teaching tool in economic development, and can help beautify vacant parcels. “I set a goal recently for Bostonians to lose one million pounds this year.  One way to accomplish this is to make sure all of our residents have access to fresh, locally grown food,” Mayor Thomas M. Menino said.  “It’s key that our city be rezoned to support Boston’s food revolution and the input of our community is crucial to help our residents now and in the future.” The existing Boston zoning code does not address many types of agricultural activities.  If an activity is not identified it is considered a forbidden use and requires an appeal through the Inspectional Service Department’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) staff and the Mayor’s Office of Food Initiatives will work with the Urban Agriculture Working Group made up of farming advocates, experts and interested citizens appointed by Mayor Menino in summer 2010 to advise and guide the rezoning initiative.  Draft zoning recommendations are slated for fall 2012, and a series of community wide meetings will be held across the city to vet those recommendations.  The final zoning recommendations will require approval from the BRA Board and the Boston Zoning Commission. In November 2010, Mayor Menino launched the Urban Agriculture Initiative to pilot urban farming on two city owned parcels in Dorchester.  Through a series of public meetings, staff from the BRA, the Department of Neighborhood Development (DND), Mayor Menino’s Food Initiatives team, and the Urban Agriculture Working Group, worked to explore ways to amend the zoning code to support urban agriculture.  In November 2011 the Boston Zoning Commission passed an amendment on the two parcels at 23-29 Tucker Street and 131 Glenway Street, which established an Urban Agriculture Overlay District within the Greater Mattapan Neighborhood District.  This allows the parcels to be used for the cultivation of plants, herbs, fruits, flowers, and vegetables and composting of materials produced on the site.  The Tucker Street location is being leased to ReVision Urban Farm and the Glenway site is being leased to City Growers. This year in recognition of Mayor Menino’s successful food and nutrition initiatives in Boston, he was asked to chair the US Conference of Mayors (USCM) Food Policy Task Force.  The USCM will focus on a number of food policy programs and initiatives expected to impact the nation’s cities this year, including the upcoming 2012 Farm Bill, growing local food economies, school meals, and nutrition policies.  

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