Who can implement this: City officials, communities, governmental organizations, and advocacy organizations
Urban agriculture refers to the growing, processing, and distributing of food and other products in urban rather than rural areas. Urban agriculture connects residents in cities to food-growing processes that would normally be inaccessible to them. Urban agriculture positively affects communities, providing both a source of local and healthy food and a place for people to come together and strengthen community ties and relationships.
Urban agriculture includes green-roof gardens, community gardens, and other commercial and noncommercial food production efforts in urban areas. Urban agriculture is valuable because it allows city residents to become involved in and learn more about the food production process. Local gardens provide educational opportunities for residents of all ages, and the benefits of exposing elementary school students, for instance, to urban agriculture are particularly popular and well documented. Utah County is already home to several existing pockets of urban agriculture that could connect the urban community to the agricultural sector socially and economically. Traditional agriculture could also be affected as urban residents become more aware of the experiences and benefits of agricultural production.
Accessory uses on small parcels of land are another option for agriculture in primarily residential areas. Being able to produce food for personal use or commercial sale can expand agriculture on these parcels, often considered “lost” from an agricultural standpoint. Streamlining accessory-use processes and educating residents interested in small-scale agriculture can expand the prevalence of agriculture in Utah County and promote a broader appreciation for larger agricultural efforts.
Urban agriculture further benefits cities by acting as green infrastructure, reducing storm water runoff, increasing greenspace, reducing the urban heat island effect, and converting vacant lots into lively spaces for food production. Urban agriculture is also particularly beneficial to low-income and otherwise disadvantaged families because it provides low-cost food products and encourages people to better integrate with their local communities.
- It is recommended that city councils enact ordinances and work with the state legislature to provide tax breaks and other incentives for urban farming, particularly the establishment of community gardens.
- Community gardening organizations should partner with local governments to pilot different forms of urban agriculture. One of the most popular and widely implemented examples of this is temporary urban gardening, where gardens are planted in underused, vacant lots. Through temporary urban gardening communities can combat blight and test the viability of more permanent urban agriculture.
- If temporary urban gardens are successful, more permanent urban agriculture should be established. Cities can also work with their communities to bypass the temporary-garden stage and instead immediately implement more permanent community gardens and other forms of urban agriculture.
- Individuals can adopt accessory agricultural uses on their property, which demonstrates their interest in agriculture on all scales while also increasing the supply of local food in their communities.
In 2015, Salt Lake County launched Farmlink, a program focused on connecting interested urban farmers with vacant lands that could be used for food production. The program was incentivized through property tax reductions for landowners who were willing to lease their land for urban commercial farming.
Wasatch Community Gardens is the state’s largest community gardening organization, providing educational and financial resources to help neighborhoods, schools, and families begin community gardens. The organization runs near-weekly classes during the planting and growing seasons.
Utah law allows for conditional agriculture on residential land. Currently, the local planning commission must approve the production of any value-added agricultural products grown as a conditional use on a case-by-case basis.
In 2013, Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones began to be established in California. These zones create tax incentives to encourage both commercial and noncommercial agriculture on lots between 0.1 and 3 acres in urbanized areas across the state.