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 Gary Schiff, Mayoral candidate.
1. Do you support allowing chickens as livestock at urban farms?
Yes, I support urban farming including chickens. I think the existing regulations do a good job striking a balance between urban farming and sustainability and residential quality of living.
2. Will you work to build affordable access to city water hydrants and support city cost assistance for water for urban farms and community gardens?
I will work to find a common sense solution to water access for community purposes. This includes partnering with the Minneapolis Fire Department and Minneapolis Park Board to utilize their resources while they are out taking care the trees, shrubs, grass and other items in the public environment.
3. Do you support creating a city pilot program for leasing public lands for urban farming?
Yes! I think this is a great idea and it can be modeled after the City’s program for leasing public lands for community gardens.
4. Will you support small food-production businesses by removing barriers to on-street and off-street parking of contractor work vehicles and trailers?
I would need to take a closer look at this, particularly as it related to on-street parking of commercial vehicles and trailers. Commercial parking on residential streets is one of the biggest complaints my office receives, especially in areas where commercial businesses and residential properties are in close proximity. I would be willing to work with neighborhood groups and business association to explore a common sense solution with regards to parking.
5. Will you 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 think current farm stands regulation are much too restrictive. I propose we amend our zoning code to create “Urban Agriculture Overlay Districts” that would allow expanded rights to farm in neighborhoods that want it. I would support a lift on the 15 day restriction and also allow farmers to sell produce at any of their sites. I would also support a modification of the temporary use permit that is currently required. I don’t think it is realistic to expect our urban farmers to have and pay for a temporary use permit each time they want to use their farm stand. A more common sense approach would be to have a seasonal temporary use permit, i.e. a permit that is paid for only once per season vs. 15 times per season.
6. What would you like the food economy of Minneapolis to look like in 2020?
In 2020 I would like to see that our food economy has reduced urban poverty and food insecurity and enhanced urban environmental management, especially in the poorest sections of the city.