Boston to Expand Urban Farming Opportunities

Urban farms will now be allowed in almost every part of Boston under new zoning law.

Urban farming

Boston might start looking like this. Urban farming photo via Shutterstock

When you think of farm country, Boston probably isn’t the first place that springs to mind. But Mayor Menino announced yesterday a set of recommendations that would bolster the urban farming community in the city.

The legislation, called Article 89, would create draft urban agriculture zoning to make it easier for more types of farms—many of which are not allowed under current zoning law—to exist in the city. As it stands now, Article 89 will allow for ground-level farms up to 10,000 square-feet and rooftop farms up to 5,000 square-feet in almost every part of Boston, with larger farms allowed on a conditional basis. It would also allow rooftop greenhouses in major institutional, industrial, and commercial zoning areas.

In addition to food growing zoning, the proposed legislation will streamline regulations on hen and beekeeping and fish farming, allow more opportunity for farmers’ markets and farm stands, examine soil safety, and establish a system of farm review done by the Boston Redevelopment Authority. In addition, the city will hold community forums about urban agriculture throughout June and July to get input from residents before the plan is finalized in December of this year. In a report, Mayor Menino says:

“Urban agriculture is an innovative way to improve city life,” Mayor Menino said. “Farmers make good neighbors and better our communities. Growing food in city limits means better access to healthy food, while growing a sense of neighborhood unity and greening our city.”

Boston’s urban agriculture community doesn’t stop at Article 89, either. Cambridge City Council is scheduled to discuss urban farming at a public meeting this afternoon, and Somerville already allows for gardens and hen and beekeeping, as long as citizens have the proper permits. Add in the city’s already successful urban farms, like Green City Growers and the Food Project, and the fact that the Urban Farming Institute of Boston held a class in urban agriculture earlier this year, and it looks like Boston is about to get a whole lot greener.