The Minneapolis Urban Farmer’s Collaborative has invited candidates for Minneapolis City Council, Parks & Recreation Board, and Mayor to complete a candidate questionnaire to determine where the candidates stand on current policy issues relevant to urban agriculture, including food production on public park lands, on-site vegetable sales for urban producers, and ownership of chickens for small-scale commercial purposes. Completed candidate questionnaires are being posted on the Minneapolis Issues Forum at www.e-democracy.org for public viewing as they become available.
Below, read the response from Elizabeth Glidden, current City Council member and candidate for the Ward 8 seat.
Urban agriculture city code amendments passed Minneapolis city council in spring of 2012 and laid the groundwork for urban farms to take root. In the year since these new rules have been in place many small businesses have endeavored to grow, sell, prepare, and compost hundreds of thousands of pounds of Minneapolis produced fruits and vegetables. This spring, the urban farmers and residents that rely on their food would like to enhance the growing environment for urban farms in Minneapolis. The following initiatives and rule changes would nourish and enrich this growing movement.
Do you as a candidate for -Mayor, City Hall- support the following initiatives and rule changes in order to promote urban farming in Minneapolis?
1. The current MPLS chicken ordinance only allows chickens in residential back yards. Many urban residents would like to purchase eggs and chicken from urban farms, and urban farmers could use the proceeds from chicken farming to support their urban farms in the winter months. Do you as a candidate support allowing chickens as livestock at urban farms?
Yes, I am open to this idea – it aligns with the growing desire of residents to have fresh local food availability.
2. Urban farm sites often don’t have water spigots and in most cases urban farmers purchase water from neighbors to water their plots. Will you as a candidate work to build affordable access to city water hydrants and support city cost assistance for water for urban farmers and community gardens?
Yes, and I have worked already to problem solve in this area. Form my work with city staff for some proposed/planned community gardens I know issues of water access can be tremendously challenging depending on location. Hydrants are not the only access points (although are one way to access water) – other ways include identifying ways to connect with existing water lines. I am interested in working on improved methods of access that can be used in multiple situations by urban farmers and gardeners; Often the biggest cost is the connection to water; I am interested to work on affordability around this issue.
3. Urban land is priced too high for urban farming to be financially sustainable. Most urban farms are leasing land without any guarantee that they’ll be able to continue leasing year to year. Urban farm sites need years of fertility building before they become highly productive. Do you as a candidate support creating a city pilot program for leasing public lands for urban farming?
The city has had a pilot program for leasing public land for community gardening – I agree the program should be expanded an open to urban farming. I personally worked on this initial pilot – it was a project I led as part of the Homegrown Minneapolis implementation committee.
4. Urban farmers and family owned businesses rely on their work vehicles to run their local businesses. It is currently illegal by city code to park work vehicles on the street in Minneapolis, resulting in hundreds of family owned businesses being fined for parking in front of their homes. Will you as a candidate support small businesses by removing barriers to on street and off street parking of contractor work vehicles and trailers?
I am willing to look at this issue and would support an ordinance change; we need a better way to support home based businesses and vehicles needed for those businesses. This is a controversial issue, however, as some today abuse the rules and park multiple commercial vehicles and large vehicles on residential streets; it will need good review of all stakeholder issues.
5.· Urban gardeners and farmers who wish to sell produce to neighbors now have to apply for a costly permit to sell vegetables. This permit only allows for 15 days of on-site sales per year, and when seeking a permit, farmers must pre-schedule their sales days. Since weather, climate, and variations in growing seasons affect production of vegetables it is almost impossible to predict when will be the best days to sell vegetables. Additionally if one farmer runs multiple sites, that farmer must apply for multiple permits to have sales from each site. These restrictions mean that valuable produce is going to waste even while there is a high demand for purchasing it within the neighborhoods. Will you as a candidate support the local food system by easing the permitting process for on-site vegetable sales, by reducing permit fees, increasing the amount of days farmers can sell, and allowing produce sales from multiple farm sites?
I am definitely a firm supporter of greater latitude in selling products from urban farms.
Broad vision question:
As a candidate for public office, what would you like the food economy of Minneapolis to look like in 2017?
I would like to have made significant progress on our goal of getting more fresh, healthy, local food available and accessible to all residents. This includes finding ways to incent small-scale grocery stores to locate in neighborhoods where today there are food deserts, and it includes increasing sales of locally grown food (including by urban gardeners) to residents through farmer’s markets and food stands and locations for urban farms. I also hope that we can make significant progress on getting healthier food options into our public schools.
For City of Minneapolis business call
(612) 673-2208/Ward 8 office