Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Thursday, February 17, 2011
The hearing for the Urban Agriculture Zoning Proposal is today, at 1:30pm at City Hall Room 400. More information about the proposal can be found on the SFUAA website. I strongly urge anyone invested in community and market gardens in San Francisco to go show your support (supporters are wearing green). Below is the letter I wrote and sent to the members of the planning commission in support of the proposal.
Dear Members of the Planning Commission:
I am the director of a small non-profit, Produce to the People, a project of the San Francisco Parks Trust. I am also a founding and organizing member of the Free Farm, a 1/3 acre community garden in the Western Addition/Tenderloin that grows and distributes fresh produce for free. Through both of these projects, I have played a part in the distribution of over 9,000 lbs of locally grown fruits and vegetables to people in need in our community, provided meaningful summer employment to 9 youth, and aided in the garden education of over 60 youth, all in the last year and a half.
I urge you to support the urban agriculture zoning proposal introduced in December (Ordinance 101537), along with a few important amendments detailed below. I strongly believe community gardens act as sites that foster not only the growth of nourishing produce, but also the connection between city dwellers and our environment, our food system, and each other. I believe in the preventative care that nutritious food affords our more vulnerable populations, who may not financially have access to it, and the benefits to our community as a whole when we are healthier. I have seen firsthand the joy and strength that comes from offering people the chance to connect with the earth, to be involved in team work, and to cultivate life in the often harsh environment of a city.
San Francisco is at the forefront of the urban agriculture movement and that we have the potential to make simple policy changes that will act as a model for other cities and towns. I support this zoning proposal for both the inception of new gardens, as well as the ability for existing gardens to sell their goods, and in turn support their projects and the hard-working people who cultivate them. This proposal supports a local food system and in turn, a local economy, both lending greatly to the vibrancy and sustainability of San Francisco as a whole.
I would urge you to support the following changes to the proposal, all of which would have hindered projects I have been a part of at one point:
1) Remove or waive the “change of use” permit fees for urban agriculture projects.
Many garden projects, including two I have been a part of in the last year, the Free Farm and the Mission High School garden, begin and continue to operate with little to no funding, supported by volunteer efforts and in-kind donations. If these currently thriving projects had faced an initial fee of $300, they may never have gotten off the ground.
2) Remove any fencing requirement.
As with the “change of use” permit fees, fencing requirements are an additional expense that many gardens may not be able to afford.
3)Allow sales of value-added products and pooled produce on site.
Value-added products and pooled produce creates the potential for increased revenue for small market garden businesses and fund raising opportunities for non-profit projects, strengthening our local economy and allowing a greater possibility for self-sustaining non-profits and CBO’s.
I appreciate your consideration and sincerely hope that you will support the proposal with the amendments outlined above.
Produce to the People