Urban Farms Make Sense for Lots of Reasons

Author: Meera, January 9, 2015
A squash plant will grow well in small gardens up a teepee of three poles or on a fence

Squash, corn, and beans (the “Three Sisters”) grow well together in an urban garden



Reduce city blight. Give city residents the opportunity to farm. Grow food for low-rent residents. Eliminate illegal dumping. Create public gardens on private land until the owner decides on another use. Lower property taxes for land owners. Improve the local environment. These are just a few reasons urban farms make a lot of sense and should be promoted.



As it turns out, the city of San Francisco is leading the way. The city has a new law offering financial incentives in the form of reduced property taxes for owners of empty lots who permit agricultural use of their land for at least five years or more.



Part of the statewide Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones Act, the law encourages potential urban farmers to convert weedy, empty lots or those covered in trash into gardens. These urban farmers necessarily would have to put in resources such as labor and money but the law ensures they cannot be forced out of their contracts, thus losing their investment.



The law is the brainchild of sustainable land-use advocates and state Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco. Cities must first pass the necessary local ordinance and San Francisco has already done that.




A single frame of wax and residual honey is hung in a tree so as not to attract ants

Frame of honey (after the honey has been harvested) hangs in a tree to be cleaned by the bees



Urban farmers must comply with local ordinances with regard to keeping bees and farm animals. But the idea of urban gardens reducing blight (which may also be prone to illegal dumping) has wide appeal for cities eager to stabilize property values and also provide more green spaces.



While other cities in California explore the environmental benefits of urban farms (including Fresno, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego, and San San Jose), San Francisco leads the way.



A city lot must meet certain qualifications: it has to be at least one-tenth of an acre. Additionally, there must be no permanent buildings on the lot. Qualified lots are re-assessed with a significantly lower tax bill for its owner.The new tax assessment is based on the average rate of irrigated farmland.



The idea of more urban farms means a win for the city, local residents, the land owners, and the environment.




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