Chicago Zoning Standing in the Way of Some Urban Gardens
Urban agriculture is not new, and while the practice experienced a boom in the 1970s, "Chicago’s city planners were slow to catch up to the ubiquity of the city’s gardens and farms," Christian Belanger argues in Southside Weekly.
Advocates for urban farming like Ken Dunn, founder of the Resource Center, want simple licensing for the community gardens and urban farms. Dunn's organization runs City Farm, which is a moving farm that has grown produce on the city's north and south sides in various vacant locations. "Dunn believes the city should institute the City Farm model on a large scale, temporarily turning many of the city’s vacant properties into short-term urban farms that would benefit communities with high unemployment rates," Belanger reports. To serve these goals Dunn believes the city should make it straightforward to license these businesses.
"Actually selling their products, though, has been a surprisingly tricky process for many farmers to navigate. Currently, farmers largely have two business licenses available to them: a peddler’s license for small-scale farmers, and a wholesale license for bigger operations," Belanger reports. A peddler's license requires each person involved to buy a license, which can be expensive and may slow these businesses from hiring, and the wholesale license has a number of requirements around infrastructure and inspection. As a result, many of the urban farms in the city operate without a license in a legal grey area.