Urban Agriculture in Boston

This summer, the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA), in collaboration with the Office of Food Initiatives, is hosting 11 neighborhood meetings to introduce and discuss the draft zoning for urban agriculture. In an effort to educate and familiarize Bostonians with the City’s urban farms, I organized an “urban farmstand” at each of these meetings. After two fall working group meetings, the ordinance is in the final stages of review. The hearing before the BRA is scheduled for mid-November.

For more information on the rezoning initiative, please visit the BRA’s Planning Initiative page on Urban Agriculture Rezoning.

Read more about the draft zoning – Article 89 – here:

Yazhou Sun, “Boston Urban Farming Seeds Planted at Community Meetings,” Banker & Tradesman (June 4, 2013).

Matt Rocheleau, “Boston aims to eliminate red tape around urban agriculture; meetings set to discuss proposed rezoning,” Boston.com (May 29, 2013).

Jamie Ducharme, “Boston to expand urban farming opportunities,” Boston Magazine (June 4, 2013).

Morgan Rousseau, “City Farming: Boston to hold community meetings on urban agriculture,” Metro (June 4, 2013).

From 2011-2012, I served as Special Assistant to Food Policy for the Office of Food Initiatives in the City of Boston. I worked as part of a team working to research best practices in urban agriculture around the country. The BRA spearheaded this research. The urban agriculture team conducted a comparative analysis, looking at both growing and shrinking cities. Our investigative process included federal and state law, interdepartmental meetings to assess challenges and opportunities to implementation, the drafting of policy recommendations, and coordination of the Mayor’s Urban Agriculture Working Group.

To launch the Rezoning Initiative, the BRA established an Urban Agriculture Overlay District for two farm sites in Dorchester. This pilot project was conducted in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office and the Department of Neighborhood Development. You can find background on the pilot project here. I was privileged to join the pilot project in the winter of 2010 and work through the community process that brought residents and farmers into conversation with one another. Today, the farm organizations are moving closer to breaking ground and introducing commercial urban agriculture into Boston.

About the Pilot Project:

Patrick Rosso, “Dorchester is one step closer to having urban farms,” Boston.com (November 16, 2011)

Adam G., “Zoning Commission goes with scientists over city councilor; approves urban farm zone,” Universal Hub (November 16, 2011)


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