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Urban Agriculture in St. Paul, MN

June 7, 2012

The Saint Paul Planning Commission listened to over an hour of comments from citizens, farmers, local food, community garden, sustainable agriculture, farm advocacy and public health representatives at the June 1st public hearing regarding the proposed Saint Paul Urban Agriculture Zoning Text Amendments. The amendments were the result of the Urban Agriculture Zoning Study initiated by the Commission in October 2011.

Public testimony was largely supportive – praising the Commission for bringing healthy and locally grown food to the City of Saint Paul agenda and moving towards policy that encourages local food enterprises and healthy eating initiatives. Questions and concerns remain, however, for both public hearing participants and Planning Commission members alike.  Some issues raised include:

  •  affordable fee structure for small-scale producers;
  • allowable space for accessory structures on parcel for growing food (e.g. hoop houses for season extension, storage for compost and mulch;
  • traffic impact where/when sales on site occur; and
  • competition with farmers currently selling at the city’s farmers’ markets.
  • Does urban agriculture have to be part of the economy – a commercial activity?
  • Should materials used on community gardens and urban farms be regulated?

The discussion is on; the process is rolling. Next stop for the Amendments is the Planning Commission’s Comprehensive Planning Committee. You can find information about the Saint Paul Planning Commission here, which also has a link to the Comprehensive Planning Committee’s page. For more related information, the City of Saint Paul recently launched a Healthy and Local Food website.

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