HEADS UP FARMING ENTHUSIASTS!
We just found out that the Planning Zoning and Appeals Board have listed as a discussion topic for their Wednesday August 5th meeting (6:30PM) (thats tomorrow!) the following: “Discussion - Agriculture Legislative Framework” (link to the agenda is here: http://miamifl.iqm2.com/Citizens/Board/1037-Planning-Zoning-and-Appeals-Board)
The rest of the page is blank and we are hoping the public will show up to help out with this discussion! While community members have brought the topic of Zoning for Urban Farming up at meetings before this is the Zoning & Appeals Board specifically opening up the conversation about the topic, and now its up to us to contribute and show them how important this topic is to us as a city! You may not know this yet but Miami has NO language in its Zoning that pertains to Urban Farming specifically, and we think thats a huge issue! The use of a vacant lot for anything commercial is pretty much prohibited, and many cities have encouraged the use of vacant lots for agricultural projects because they see the value in having food production in the city for their citizens. What does it take to change this for our city? it takes us showing up when we can to let the people in charge know how important we think issues like this are. This Wednesday is a BIG opportunity for us to contribute to the conversation in a constructive way. This is the very first time that this has been an official discussion topic so were not going to get finished zoning out of this meeting its just the beginning, but we want them to know that this is important to the community and deserves attention, time and effort from the city.
If you would like to have your voice heard on this matter these are the best ways to contribute:
Submit a prerecorded video message thats 2 minutes or less BEFORE 4PM TODAY
Sign up BEFORE 4PM TODAY to get a call back during the meeting and get to speak live.
2 minute maximum per person. Everyone who signs up will be allowed to speak.
Use the public comment form to send an email/text piece, but make sure you include “please read this aloud to the board during the meeting” if you’d like it to be included in the actual meeting. (our least favorite option, would be great if you would make a video or speak live instead!)
The link to all of the above participation options is below:
Here are some talking points and suggestions for your contribution. We think its great when people craft their own message but just incase you’d like some help and some resources we’ve added some info below. This was made quite urgently so apologies for typos and oversights.
-we recommend you not approach this meeting as a “fighting” moment, but rather an opportunity to show the positive impact that you think Urban Farming will have on your community. our goal here is to get the PZAB excited about urban farming, and to show them that their city cares and is encouraging of this movement.
-the time is now! many other large cities have had urban ag language in their zoning for more than 10 years! As a city on the forefront of climate change, focused on the resiliency of its citizens, Miami has waited long enough to embrace urban agriculture. while we are excited to see this finally make an appearance as an actual agenda item we want the discussion to continue in earnest and not get bogged down in bureaucracy for another 10 years…
-What do we want to see made permissible through this zoning initiative? We want Urban farms to be able to operate legally within the city on vacant lots (residential ones, industrial ones, commercial ones, etc.). this is different than community gardens. we want small businesses that do agriculture to be able to legally operate within the city and to create new jobs and new economic marketplaces by being allowed to operate (currently its against zoning for any business to operate or produce anything on a vacant lot)
-while community gardens are important too (they are allowed in Miami while urban farms are not) we think its important to expand on the presence of food production in the city by allowing people to operate small businesses to farm too. Farming must also include making compost & growing plants.
-when the city specifically takes the time to draft & finalize zoning rules for urban ag they are telling community members that they care about this topic! They are making their city a better more forward thinking, resilient & sustainability minded place to be. they are setting an example for other cities throughout the Nation by putting in the work to make this legal framework for Urban ag. By comparison the current attitude towards it is: spend a lot of money trying to figure out a way to make your project seem like its something else that we already have rules for so you can stay in business. thats not enough!
-Miami has a historical relationship with farming that it should be uplifting and encouraging, not legislating its way out of. Homestead & the Redlands, the only large areas left where agriculture is permitted, are being developed at a rapid pace and soon there will be nothing left if its not allowed to flourish in smaller unused pockets of land throughout the city. Think of all the fenced in vacant lots you pass by on your commute every day, and now imagine them with thriving green spaces and small businesses operating responsibly on them instead!
Some notes on the importance of local food (compiled by Chris Bouza/ Finca Morada):
-Now in the face of a global pandemic, local food is more important than ever. Locally grown food, right here in the urban core strengthens our resilience in many ways.
-People who eat locally grown food are statistically healthier. Healthy individuals decrease pressure on our health care system and make an overall healthier Miami.
-People who eat local food & plant medicine have a deeper connection to nature and their immediate environment. People connected to nature are motivated to protect and care for their environment, produce less waste, and practice sustainability.
-Local food is our healthiest and safest option possible, especially now, in the face of a global pandemic.
-Locally grown food fulfills a severe need for access to fresh healthy food in low income communities, who experience what Karen Washington calls “Food Aparteid” also known as food deserts. Imagine if families could walk down their street to their local farm stand to purchase their fresh produce, instead of McDonalds or a gas station.
-I believe that we have to work together to bring equity and equality to our community. To first acknowledge the injustices in the food system and the presence of food deserts, then to start acting on solutions. Opening up the pathway for urban farming is definitively one solution.
-Locally grown food significantly decreases our city's carbon foot print. Its time for Miami to lead the way in sustainability and climate resilience.
-Cities across the country who have prioritized and supported urban farming, have greener, more beautiful cities, with decreased carbon emissions.
-The urban farmers we know offer workshops and opportunities to learn about sustainability and connect to nature. These types of events at urban farms, are incredibly beneficial for our youth, for bringing community together, and for sharing important lessons that positively impact our city like composting.
-In these uncertain times of struggle, pandemic, financial insecurity, growing our own food as a city, builds individual and community resilience and sovereignty. Sovereignty in other words, means self-sufficiency, independence or the ability of a person or community to grow their own food & medicine, to educate, support, & care for each other without having to rely on outside sources. Miami has the ability to grow it's own food, to feed it's community. Its time we put environmental and racial justice into healthy action.
-If you’d like to contribute some resources, facts, figures or positive examples for the board to know about (we encourage you to do so) or want to just read more about Urban Farming, check out some of the links below for studies, examples and articles you can pull from:
Detroits urban farming zoning text:
San Franciscos urban farming zoning text:
Atlantas urban farming zoning text: