Those living in the Boston area of Massachusetts may soon reap the benefits of an increase in locally grown food thanks to Article 89, a new zoning measure. Back in January 2012, the seeds were planted to make it easier for those interested in urban agriculture. Farmers, farming advocates, food industry experts and Boston neighborhood representatives were all part of the effort.
After 17 meetings of a working group and 11 neighborhood meetings, by the summer of 2013 it was clear that Boston was on board. Some key provisions regarding urban farms state the following:
• Up to 1 acre ground level farms will be allowed in all zoning districts
• Up to 5,000 sq. ft. roof-level farms will be allowed in all zoning districts
• Rooftop greenhouses will be allowed in institutional, industrial, and large scale commercial zoning districts, and conditional in all other districts
Once Article 89 is finalized, there will help available for those needing assistance in understanding the new requirements. A November 14, 2013 Board Meeting Memo states that a user guide will be issued summarizing Article 89. Also, the Mayor’s Office of Food Initiatives will be partnering with Harvard Law School’s Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation to further assist in explaining the process.
The next step on the way to finalizing Article 89 is a hearing before the Boston Zoning Commission scheduled for December 18, 2013. While this particular initiative is new, the concept of urban farming is not new to the city according to a Boston.com article.
“The Dudley Greenhouse is a fully operational, 10,000 square-foot greenhouse on Brook Avenue in Roxbury, owned by the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative and run by The Food Project. It is one of Boston’s original urban agriculture projects.
In 2004, the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative acquired the abandoned Brook Avenue Garage from Dudley Neighbors, Inc., with plans to transform the lot into a greenhouse to facilitate local food production and build a hub for community education. Then, in 2010, the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative partnered with The Food Project — and the community farm that is the Dudley Greenhouse was born.
“It was an absolutely natural fit,” said Travis Watson, senior organizer and communications manager at the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative. The neighborhood had both the demand and the need, said Watson.”