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 Kendal Killian, candidate for the Minneapolis City Council Ward 10 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?
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?
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?
Kendal: As someone with a community garden plot myself, I understand the importance of a water source in the process. I will absolutely work with farmers to find a water source that fits their needs. That said; I need to learn more about the costs associated with this before I fully commit.
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?
Kendal: Yes. In fact, I brought a similar idea (allowing community gardens in parks) to Park Commissioner Brad Bourn in 2009. He campaigned on the idea and won. I am proud to have earned Brad’s support for my campaign.
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?
Kendal: Absolutely, I support removing barriers to on street and off street parking for work vehicles. We need a full-scale review of our ordinances as they relate to commercial vehicles parked on the street. I want to make this issue a priority.
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?
Kendal: Yes. I will work to ease the permitting process, reduce fees, increase market days and allow produce to be sold at multiple farms sites.
I was the only candidate at the recent environmental issues forum to directly express my disappointment in Council Member Tuthill for her failure to support the needs of farmers in terms of market garden days. Her lack of support on this issue is part of what motivated me to run for this seat.
Broad vision question:
As a candidate for public office, what would you like the food economy of Minneapolis to look like in 2017?
Kendal: Equity is the number one issue I am campaigning on. In some ways we have two cities in Minneapolis operating parallel to one another; one city where most people are doing quite well and another where a lot of people are really struggling. We must close these equity gaps or we will not be reaching our full potential as a city.
Food, nutrition and the general wellbeing of everyone in our city should be a priority. Everyone in our city should have access to healthy food options. That should be our ultimate goal. In Ward 10 specifically, I will work to bring a farmers market back to our area by 2017.