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Urban Agriculture: Six City Case Study Analysis to inform Atlanta’s urban ag policies

Across the United States, urban food production and its supporting policies have yielded multiple benefits for host cities such as the promotion of human health, encouragement of civic virtue, development of economic opportunities, and protection of the environment. This research was targeted at analyzing how several prominent cities in the U.S. have already approached urban agricultural policy. Such an analysis makes possible an extraction of best practices which create a framework ALFI can use to inform Atlanta’s policy makers about policies that would promote sustainable urban agriculture. This goal was operationalized through case studies of urban agriculture programs and infrastructures in Baltimore, Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia, Seattle, and San Francisco.

Date Published: 2014

Author Affiliation: Georgia Institute of Technology, School of Public Policy

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Urban Agriculture: A Sixteen City Survey of Urban Agriculture Practices Across the Country

This report surveys the zoning ordinances of 16 cities and explores how these cities have incorporated urban agriculture into their land use plans. Each city was chosen either because of its long-standing urban agriculture practices or because of its recent efforts to revise its zoning ordinances. All information contained within this report is current as of June 1, 2011.
The cities’ unique approaches to urban agriculture are addressed in three parts. First, we present the regional, political, and historical context of urban agriculture in each city. To provide a common point of comparison, we identify each city’s rank in the 2008 SustainLane city sustainability rankings where possible. SustainLane evaluated the 50 most populous cities in the United States and ranked each city to create the “nation’s most complete report card on sustainability.” Second, we explain the current status of the city’s urban agriculture zoning ordinances. Finally, we provide a detailed report of each city’s urban agriculture practices. Based upon this examination, we conclude that there is no exact formula for the successful implementation of urban agriculture initiatives. Nevertheless, we hope this report will help inform and guide Georgia Organics in fostering urban agriculture practices in Atlanta and throughout Georgia.
To understand this report and its findings, a brief explanation of urban agriculture is required. Urban agriculture encompasses a wide range of activities; the term means something different to each of the 16 cities surveyed. Most broadly, urban agriculture refers to growing and raising food crops and animals in an urban setting for the purpose of feeding local populations. Cities choose to narrow and focus this definition in various ways, often categorizing urban agriculture as one or more of the following: community gardens, commercial gardens, community supported agriculture, farmers’ markets, personal gardens, and urban farms.
Regardless of the definition, most of the cities surveyed incorporate urban agriculture provisions into their zoning ordinances. Many do so by including provisions regarding community gardens, sales of produce, and keeping animals. Most commonly, cities will address community gardens in their zoning ordinances. While these gardens are formed and regulated differently in each city, administration of garden operations typically requires the city to partner with local community groups.
Many cities also contemplate sales in their urban agriculture zoning ordinances. Usually, the sale of produce grown in urban agriculture settings is permitted. Sales, however, are often subject to various restrictions, depending on each city’s individual needs, desire for urban agriculture, and feedback from citizens and interested groups.
Some cities label gardens from which produce is sold as “commercial gardens,” and set forth specific regulations for that particular use.
Most zoning ordinances also address keeping animals. Keeping chickens is allowed in many cities, and some cities allow for livestock and bees to be kept as well. The regulations regarding the keeping of animals are typically stricter than those for gardens, and setbacks for chicken coops or animal housing and restrictions on the number of animals that may be kept are nearly always established.
Cities often address a variety of other urban agriculture issues, including the length of time the property may be used as a garden, ownership of the land, lot size and setbacks, parking, signage, liability, aesthetics and upkeep, access to water, impact to property values, and runoff and pesticides. While each city’s approach is different, together they form a template from which Atlanta can begin to draft its urban agriculture initiatives.

Date Published: 2011

Author Affiliation: Emory University: School of Law- Turner Law Clinic

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Urban Farming in Atlanta, Georgia: The Seed of Neoliberal Contestation or Hybridized Compromize?

The space on which the urban farm is produced has a history of its own that can be explored for evidence of neoliberal shaping and retooling. This thesis explores how the city and the farm are under- stood through the complex articulations of farmers and through the account of the specific historical and geographical context of the farm. The urban farm is a uniquely situated land use that can provide the spaces for contestation to the neoliberalization of the city and the United States food system. Through qualitative analysis, including a case study, interviews with farmers, participant observation, and archival data collection, this research examines the city and the farm from the perspective of the farmer to understand the degree to which these contestations are resisting neoliberalism. Further- more, it suggests that scholars of neoliberalism and urban farming should more fully consider the hybridized nature in which urban farmers understand their work.

Date Published:

Author Affiliation: Georgia State University: Department of Geosciences

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A lesson from the Urban Garden

A review addressing urban agricultur specifically as an intervention or project with a goal of increasing food production. This review used the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework (SLF) as a foundation, and adjusted it to account for negative implications of urban agriculture interventions as well as sustainability. It was used to then evaluate eight urban agricultural projects implemented in varying socioeconomic and geographical locations. It then generated a food security socre, respective of each project which was then used to confirm patters and characteristics of more effective projects.

Date Published: 2011

Author Affiliation: Georgia State University: Department of Nutrition

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Urban Agriculture and the Sustainable CIty: How policy changes concerning infrastructure and urban agriculture can economically and environmentally benefit atlanta

The intent of this paper is first to assert that urban agriculture provides numerous economic and environmental benefits to cities, and second to identify ways that the City of Atlanta could take advantage of these benefits. The first part of the paper, the Literature Review, will take a broad look at why AU is a desirable land use for cities, and then identify three major areas where cities stand to benefit. The three areas that will be addressed include waste management, public land management, and stormwater management. Within each area, examples will be shown from other cities to support the proposition that AU is an advantageous land use. Once the argument for AU as a beneficial land use is established, the latter half of the paper will posit that Atlanta could economically benefit from encouraging and allowing urban agriculture within the city. The Analysis and Recommendations section of the paper will assert and test the hypothesis that the City of Atlanta can economically benefit by establishing AU as a land use. The hypothesis will be tested by establishing benchmarks of success, scaling data from the example cities to Atlanta, and providing a land suitability criteria and analysis. A discussion of limitations and policy recommendations will conclude the paper. To address the hypothesis, the analysis will first establish benchmarks of success and then use data from the example cities to provide scalable metrics. The analysis will then provide a brief context for the City of Atlanta and establish guidelines for a land suitability analysis to be conducted in GIS. The paper will go on to analyze the potential benefits for the city by scaling the collected data to Atlanta’s population and the amount of suitable land available in the city. Finally, the analysis will inform and identify policy changes that will allow the city to better capture these benefits. Agricultural Urbanism offers a variety of advantages to cities in the form of social, environmental and economic benefits. While the social and environmental benefits may be more obvious, the economic benefits are often overlooked. AU is frequently dismissed as a utopian or charitable ideal, which belies its benefit as a movement that is economically viable and could provide cities with substantial economic returns. Sustainability is usually thought of in the ecological sense of conserving or preserving resources; however, ‘sustainable’ actually implies something that can be upheld or maintained at a certain rate or level. If an idea is not economically viable, it is not wholly sustainable. The first part of this paper will examine urban agriculture from an economic lens, specifically as it relates to economic and environmental benefits to cities.

Date Published: 2013

Author Affiliation: Georgia Institute of Technology: School of City and Regional Planning

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A Food System Analysis of the City of Atlanta

The study of local and regional food systems has been identified at the global and national levels as an important activity for municipalities to evaluate. Food security, or consumer access to safe, nutritious, and affordable food, is increasingly studied in public health and poverty research. Cities are utilizing urban agriculture as a tool for economic development, vacant land reuse, community building, and public health. The negative environmental and societal ramifications of the current food system necessitate a shift towards agriculture at varying scales of production. In the last five years, Atlanta public officials and food advocates have identified goals towards building a more localized and vibrant food system. This report provides further reasoning for promoting food systems planning, identifies mechanisms employed by other cities and regions to enhance the provision and consumption of locally grown food, and describes Atlanta’s current efforts in this regard. Strategic directions to guide Atlanta are recommended to help improve its efforts and overcome the identified barriers.

Date Published: 2013

Author Affiliation: Georgia Institute of Technology: School of City and Regional Planning

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