July 12 2012

Farming Is Abuzz In The Inner CIty: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Urban Farm in Minneapolis, Minnesota; Image Credit: Matthew Traucht

Though only recently decriminalized, urban farming and beekeeping endeavors are quickly gaining a foothold in the contemporary landscape of Minneapolis, Minnesota. In order to increase the sustainability and efficiency of urban land use, while also promoting the local food system, the City of Minneapolis is currently implementing several changes:

  1. Amending zoning laws to permit market gardens, composting initiatives, and to allow agriculture in commercial and industrial areas;
  2. Considering urban agriculture in long-range planning of land use and transportation;
  3. Encouraging creative land use in future development including growers’ markets and edible landscaping;
  4. Conducting land surveys and making vacant properties available for urban agricultural uses;
  5. Enhancing agricultural uses through economic impact analyses and supporting small business development.

So, how does this look on the ground?  I recently interrupted Farmer Mike of Growing Lots Urban Farms, as he was cultivating mounds of black earth piled in rows atop an abandoned asphalt slab, while traffic raced by on the nearby highway.  Using such permaculture techniques as vertical farming and intercropping, Mike produces vegetables for more than 30 CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) members.  All of the produce is grown on small, abandoned lots in areas zoned industrial.  Growing Lots has converted a neglected service station into a farm shed while a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbs absorb stormwater and diminish the urban heat island effect by reducing the area of exposed asphalt.

Growers Market in Downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota; Image Credit: Matthew Traucht

Another part of this process of changing land-use patterns has allowed for urban beekeeping, which wasn’t permitted until 2009 when a 34-year ban on bees was lifted. No longer an underground activity, beekeeping is becoming a common sight in the Twin Cities. One such example of this is the Community Bees on Bikes program that combines educational urban apiary tours at parks, community gardens, and schools with sustainable travel on bicycles.

Many of the Twin Cities 65 metro-area growers markets make use of less traditional urban spaces such as one under an overpass of a major interstate and another lining the commercial streets of downtown.

How is agriculture changing the urban landscape in your city?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Matthew Traucht

Matthew Traucht graduated from the University of New Mexico with a B.A. in cultural anthropology and is now pursuing his Master of Landscape Architecture at the University of Minnesota’s College of Design. Inspired by the work he was doing as an archaeologist in New Mexico where he studied prehistoric lifeways and preindustrial agricultural techniques; Matthew established an organic farm business. Eventually this led him to join the US Peace Corps where he served as a Natural Resources Volunteer in The Gambia from 2007-2009. For the last five years he has been blogging about some of his observations about the interactions between nature and culture, most recently on Desire Lines. Now, as a graduate student, Matthew is interested in sustainable communities, brownfield remediation, and historic cultural landscape preservation.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, July 12th, 2012 at 6:02 am and is filed under Environment, Environmental Design, Government/Politics, Land Use, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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