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SF Looks to Cultivate its Urban Gardens

Stephanie M. Lee reports on the complicated nature of creating an urban garden in San Francisco, and how the area's Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) hopes to streamline the process.
May 3, 2012, 9am PDT | Alesia Hsiao
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Last year, the city of San Francisco changed their zoning rules to allow residents to grow and sell food by means of urban farms and gardens. But the process entailed working with up to seven city agencies just to get the required approvals. Outlined in a report released last month, SPUR recommends a number of reforms to try to simplify the entangled process and satisfy the voracious demand for space to garden in the city.

"The report, the result of a six-month study of the budding small-business model, makes the case for increasing that space. It calls on city agencies, including the Recreation and Park Department and the Public Utilities Commission, to provide more land to urban farmers, including existing public areas that are underused."

Eli Zigas, the food systems and urban agriculture program manager at SPUR, says that uncertainty over how to even begin to set up an urban garden is a major stumbling block. "There are people who want to start projects who find it difficult to do so because they don't know who to talk to. Or they approach an agency, and the agency doesn't know how to respond because that's not what they do".

Last month, Supervisor David Chiu introduced new legislation for creating an urban garden program housed by one centralized agency or non-profit organization by the end of the year.

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Published on Monday, April 23, 2012 in SF Gate
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