Guidebook, webinar address zoning issues when agriculture comes to the city

09/17/15

AMES, Iowa — Everyone loves local food and farmers markets, but emotions can run high when city councils discuss the merits of allowing goats, chickens and even food trucks within municipal boundaries.

A free public webinar will introduce a new resource for city governments on zoning issues related to production and sales activities commonly associated with urban agriculture. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will host the webinar from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 30. To participate, login as a guest (no password required) 15 minutes prior to the presentation.

Gary Taylor is an associate professor of community and regional planning and interim director of the ISU Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development Program.

Gary Taylor, associate professor of community and regional planning and interim director of the ISU Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development Program, has produced a new 114-page guidebook, Municipal Zoning for Local Foods in Iowa. The book provides practical guidance and sample zoning code language related to local food production and sales, from aquaculture and bees to front-yard gardens, farm stands and food trucks.

"Municipalities in Iowa and across the nation are increasingly recognizing the multiple benefits of urban agriculture; however, zoning regulations can unintentionally impede some of these activities," said Taylor. "Although written for Iowa, the guidebook contains information applicable to any local jurisdiction."

Taylor's project was funded by a 2014 competitive grant from the Policy Initiative of ISU's Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. Craig Chase, who directs local food programs for the Leopold Center and ISU Extension and Outreach, says the project offers valuable information for city officials as they deal with zoning and other issues related to urban agriculture.

"This project gives us a better understanding of the issues, including public health, safety and welfare concerns and best practices associated with activities surrounding local food production in an urban setting," Chase said.

Taylor's new guidebook offers valuable information for city officials dealing with zoning and other issues related to urban agriculture.

Taylor worked with Andrea Vaage, Grimes, Iowa, a graduate student in community and regional planning and sustainable agriculture, to collect zoning code language from 84 municipalities across the nation on a variety of topics. They also researched practice-oriented scientific publications from numerous sources including the USDA, Environmental Protection Agency, Cooperative Extension and several university Extension services.

The guidebook has chapters on these common urban agriculture activities: aquaculture, bees, chickens, goats, front-yard gardens, community and market gardens, gardening on vacant lots, urban farms, season extenders, composting, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) drop-sites, farm stands, farmers markets, food trucks and pushcarts, and urban agriculture districts. Each chapter includes a general description and science-based information on standards and best practices associated with each activity; the public health, safety and welfare concerns; a summary of the commonalities found among municipalities' codes; and sample code language taken from municipalities that vary both in size and location.

Taylor is preparing a similar guidebook on county zoning regulations as part of a 2015 Leopold Center Policy Initiative grant.

Municipal Zoning for Local Foods in Iowa is available on the Leopold Center website and on the Midwest Planning Blog BLUZ. To participate in the free webinar, login as a guest 15 minutes prior to the presentation.

Contacts:
Gary Taylor, Community & Regional Planning / ISU Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development, (515) 294-8397, gtaylor@iastate.edu
Craig Chase, Leopold Center Marketing & Food System Initiative / ISU Extension & Outreach Local Food Team, (515) 294-1854, cchase@iastate.edu
Laura Miller, Leopold Center Communications, (515) 294-5272, lwmiller@iastate.edu

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