Urban Agriculture - Community Gardening
The focus of this page is to provide background resources for Washington local government policy makers on opportunities to enhance sustainability by encouraging gardening in urban settings. Resources selected present links to information on the topics of sustainability, food resources and health communities. The page includes examples of community gardening and youth gardening programs, and land use policies.
About Urban Agriculture and Community Gardening
According to the USDA, around 15 percent of the world's food is now grown in urban areas. City and suburban agriculture takes the form of backyard, roof-top and balcony gardening, community gardening in vacant lots and parks, roadside urban fringe agriculture and livestock grazing in open space.
Community gardens promote healthy communities and provide food security for many low income persons. In an urban setting, community gardens are part of the open space network. The gardens and those who participate in community gardening contribute to the preservation of open space, provide access to it, and create sustainable uses of the space. Community gardens strengthen community bonds, provide food, and create recreational and therapeutic opportunities for a community. They can also promote environmental awareness and provide community education.
One of the goals to create healthy communities is to improve nutrition in the community as a whole. These strategies are described in the Washington State Nutrition and Physical Activity Plan (NPASP) developed by DOH and its partners. Washington's strategic plan has among its objectives increasing access to health promoting foods. An example is increasing the availability of and access to local community gardens. Healthy Communities Pilot Projects are testing the effectiveness of the plan strategies in local communities. Moses Lake's Healthy Communities Project includes a community garden.
Public community garden programs are generally administered by the community development or parks department. In Seattle the city-wide community gardening program is under the Department of Neighborhoods. Other gardening programs involve public and private schools and other institutions. Some jurisdictions are changing policies to encourage residents to plant vegetables and other edible foods and allow a limited number of farm animals, such as chickens in the city.
Community Garden Programs (Public)
Community gardens exist in, or are being built in many Washington communities. A number of cities have garden websites including: Anacortes, Bonney Lake, Bremerton, Davenport, Duvall, Langley, Puyallup, Sammamish, Tacoma. A few have been highlighted below.
Community Gardens and Youth
- GRub Youth Programs - Garden-Raised Bounty (GRuB) is a nonprofit working to empower people and grow good food in Thurston and Mason counties. Among its programs, it provides agriculture-based education, employment and dropout programs for youth. In partnership with the Olympia School District, GRuB is currently planning a pilot project with Olympia High School.
- Puget Sound School Garden's Collective - Highlights some of our many school gardens in the Puget Sound and offers ideas for curriculum, volunteer opportunities and ideas for starting a school garden program.
- Seattle Youth Garden Works - Job skills training program for youth
- Youth Gardening, American Horticulture Association
Zoning and Policy
- Land Use and Planning Policies to Support Community and Urban Gardening (), Community Garden Policy Inventory chart, prepared by Public Health Law and Policy - Contains information on land use and planning policies to support community and urban gardening from across the country. Topics covered include: general promotion of community gardens; specific promotion of community gardens; land acquisition; land tenure; management; quotas/location; and equitable access, via Northern California Healthy Eating Active Living, Dr. Robert C. and Veronica Atkins Center for Weight & Health, University of California, Berkeley
- Seeding the City: Land Use Policies to Promote Urban Agriculture, National Policy & Legal Analysis Network to Prevent Childhood Obesity (NPLAN)
- Promoting Urban Agriculture as an Alternative Land Use for Vacant Properties in the City of Detroit: Benefits, Problems and Proposals for a Regulatory Framework for Successful Land Use Integration (), John E. Mogk, et al., Wayne State University Law School
- Zoning for Urban Agriculture, by Nina Mukherji and Alfonso Morales, Zoning Practice, March 2010 (Available through MRSC Library Loan)
- Urban Agriculture in Seattle: Policy & Barriers (), prepared for the Department of Neighborhoods, by Leah Erickson , et al., August 2009, via Urban Farm Hub
Sample Zoning and Policy Provisions Washington Local Governments
- Seattle Department of Planning and Development Urban Agriculture - Provides quick references to Seattle documents
- Seattle Ordinance No. 123378 - Amends the title of subchapter II of Chapter 23.44, to support urban agriculture, to modify restrictions on greenhouses and solariums and on the keeping of domestic fowl, to clarify and modify definitions for key terms related to urban agriculture, passed 08/2010
- Seattle Department of Planning and Community Development Client Assistance Memo No. 244 (), Urban Agriculture - Green Building CAM, rev. 10/20/2010
Sample Zoning and Policy Provisions Out-of-State
- Boston Redevelopment Authority Zoning Code Article 33 - Open Space Subdistrict (), 03/08/1988 - Includes creation of community garden open space subdistrict
- San Francisco Mayor Lee Signs Urban Agriculture Legislation for Greater Local Food Production in SF, Office of the Mayor Press Release, 04/20/2011
- San Francisco Ordinance No. 66-11 ( 35 MB) - Urban agriculture amendments to planning code, passed by Board of Supervisors 04/12/2011, signed by Mayor 04/20/2011
- Kansas City, MO Ordinance No. 100299 () - Amending Chapter 88, Zoning and Development Code ...and adding a new Section 88-312, Agriculture, all to provide for and regulate urban agriculture; and directing the City Manager to make certain reports to the Council regarding this ordinance, passed 06/2010
Resources for Urban Agriculture and Community Gardening
- Bloom to Grow: (), by Marti Ross Bjornson, Parks and Recreation, March 2006 - Community gardening provides education, enrichment and eggplants all in one plot
- Chicago Farms and Projects, Growing Power
- Community Gardening, Brooklyn Botanic Garden - Publication description
- Community Garden Start-Up Guide (), by Rachel Surls, University of California Cooperative Extension, Los Angeles County
- Community Gardens: Strategies & Resources, Parks and Recreation, Special Supplement, January 2011
- Cultivating Community Gardens: The Role of Local Government in Creating Healthy, Livable Neighborhoods (), California Local Government Commission
- Farms and Community Gardening, United States Department of Agriculture, Alternative Farming Systems Information Center
- Designing Urban Agriculture Opportunities for Southeast False Creek () (Vancouver, B.C.), Barrs Planning Group
- Greening Cities, Growing Communities: Learning from Seattle's Urban Community Gardens, by Jeffrey Hou, Julie M. Johnson, and Laura J. Lawson, University of Washington Press with Landscape Architecture Foundation, 2009. (Available through MRSC Library Loan)
- How Does Your Garden Grow?, by Gretchen Needham, Parks and Recreation, August 2008, via Find Articles
- Organizing Your Community Garden, University of Maine Cooperative Extension Bulletin #4300
- Returning to Their Roots - A Look at How Scalable Agriculture Can Create Core Sustainable Suburban Communities, by Jamie Thomas and Colin Drukker, Urban Land Green, Spring 2009 (Available through MRSC Library Loan)
- Sustainable Urban Agriculture (), by Benjamine Linsley and Ted Caplow, Urban Land, Spring 2008 via San Diego Roots Sustainable Food Project
- Urban Agriculture and Community Food Security in the United States: Farming from the City Center to the Urban Fringe, prepared by the Urban Agriculture Committee of the Community Food Security Coalition, February 2002
- Urban Agriculture: Growing Healthy, Sustainable Places, by Kimberley Hodgson, Marcia Caton Campbell, and Martin Bailkey (PAS 563), American Planning Association, 2010 (Available through MRSC Library Loan)
- Urban Agriculture: Practices to Improve Cities, by Mia Lehrer and Maya Dunne Urban Land, January/February 2011 (Also Available through MRSC Library Loan)