Zoning for Urban Agriculture

Zoning Practice — March 2010

By Nina Mukherji, Alfonso Morales


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As sustainability has moved up the municipal agenda, cities have begun to take an interest in urban agriculture as a way to promote health, to support economic and community development, and to improve the urban environment. Urban agriculture can include a number of food production and distribution-related activities, which for our purposes include food production through plant cultivation or animal husbandry, as well as some nonindustrial processing and distribution of that food.

Urban agricultural activities are affected by municipal policy. Some cities actively promote urban agriculture through funding, land donations, or protective zoning. Unfortunately, local policies can also present barriers to urban agriculture, particularly when restrictive zoning makes urban agriculture difficult. Frequently, these policy barriers are unintentional.

This issue of Zoning Practice places urban agriculture in a historical context, examines regulatory approaches, and makes recommendations for planning and zoning practice.


Page Count
Date Published
March 1, 2010
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American Planning Association

About the Authors

Nina Mukherji

Alfonso Morales
Alfonso Morales produces applied and basic research findings on various planning topics including economic development, food systems, housing, and etc. Morales has created a body of books, articles, book chapters, and other writing that provides practical insight into the ways that economic activities and social interactions contribute to and influence community and economic development. He has published in the top journals of six different disciplinary associations. He has been PI or Co-I of more than $10 million dollars in sponsored projects and his new research includes contract work for the Vice Chancellor for Facilities, Planning and Management at the University of Wisconsin at Madison to understand how campus operations and planning facilitate academic research and teaching. Professor Morales received his graduate degrees from Northwestern University (Ph.D, 1993), the University of Chicago (AM 1989), and the University of Texas at Dallas (MS 1987). He was a Dissertation Fellow at the American Bar Foundation and a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow. He has been recognized for his teaching generally and work with communities and students of color particularly. The Health Resources and Services Administration, the US Department of Agriculture, the Ford Foundation, and the American Bar Foundation are among organizations that have supported his research, and most recently was awarded a Vilas Mid-Career award ($50,000) by the University of Wisconsin-Madison.