Urban Agriculture as an Emergent Land Use

Zoning Practice — August 2014

By Brian Barth


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Though the term "urban agriculture" sounds like an oxymoron, agriculture in an urban context is not a new concept, nor is it as radical as it seems. Developed and developing countries around the world have many examples of urban agriculture, both historic and contemporary. What is relatively new, however, is the emerging view in North America that the benefits of urban agriculture are so substantial as to merit codification in local land-use ordinances.

The integration of agricultural activities — such as animal husbandry, large-scale composting, and the use of farming equipment — in cities has not been without bumps in the road. Concerns over crowing roosters, unkempt vegetation, swarming bees, and unpleasant odors are valid, and zoning and other land-use regulations are important tools for balancing the rights of a community to produce, and possibly to sell, food grown inside city limits with other public interests.

This issue of Zoning Practice describes the spectrum of land-uses and activities that comprise urban agriculture and analyzes how three very different cities are promoting urban agriculture through zoning.


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Date Published
Aug. 1, 2014
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American Planning Association

About the Author

Brian Barth