Zoning Change Clears Way for Urban Farming in Boston

The urban farming movement won a big victory recently in Boston, where new zoning regulations allowed for the creation of certain kinds of commercial farms within city limits.
January 18, 2014, 7am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Boston recently passed Article 89, a new zoning ordinance that allows the operation of certain kinds of farms, including commercial farms. The new rules overturn the strict controls put in place in 1965 by the citywide zoning code that made it virtually impossible to farm in Boston.

The aspirations of urban farming advocates are well intentioned "to improve the quality of the food city-dwellers eat, decrease the distances food must travel before it arrives in their stomachs, and provide access to nutritious produce in low-income neighborhoods." Still unclear, however, is whether urban farming can deliver, in reality, benefits of energy efficiency compared to contemporary rural farming practices and whether farming uses will pencil out for developers in urban areas of high property value.

Nefakh’s story approaches the uncertainty of urban farming's future by exploring some of the more creative possibilities made possible by the new code, describing ideas like high-rise farming, hydroponic trays, shipping container mini-farms, and undersea edibles, among other ideas.

For the record, “Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development is already accepting proposals for three separate sites in Dorchester and Roxbury that they hope will turn vacant lots into farmland,” reports Nefakh.

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Published on Sunday, January 19, 2014 in Boston Globe
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