Green digest // Urban agriculture zones

Amendments proposed to urban agriculture zoning rules

The City Council’s Zoning and Planning Committee was scheduled to discuss several proposed changes to new zoning regulations for urban agriculture March 22.

If approved, the amendments would slightly alter the Urban Agriculture Zoning Text Amendment before the full City Council votes on the new regulations March 30. The text amendment is a set of new zoning rules that would for the first time define many common urban agriculture practices in city code, and its progress was being closely monitored by Minneapolis’ urban farmers as spring planting time neared.

City Council Member Meg Tuthill (Ward 10), who sits on the Zoning and Planning Committee, proposed three alterations to the zoning text amendment during a brief committee discussion March 1 at the tail end of a marathon committee meeting.

Tuthill first proposed to significantly reduce the number of days growers could sell from on-site farmstands. City staff recommended a maximum of 25 sale days per year, and Tuthill would like to see that number reduced to just two sales of no more than 72-hours each, the same as the limit for garage sales.

The zoning text amendment would allow certain types of urban farms called market gardens to be located in residential areas, and Tuthill said she was concerned about the potential noise and traffic associated with the sales.

City Council Member Cam Gordon (Ward 2), who also sits on the committee, attempted to address Tuthill’s concerns with an amendment of his own. Gordon would add language to the zoning text amendment requiring market garden operators to notify their adjacent neighbors, neighborhood organization and City Council member when they seek a temporary use permit for farmstand sales.

The proposed rules for hoop houses, temporary structures used to extend the growing season, also proved contentious. As written, the zoning text amendment would allow for hoop houses up to 12 feet tall, but Tuthill proposed to cut that maximum height limit in half, to just 6 feet.

Tuthill’s third proposed change aimed to more clearly define the materials that can be used to construct raised planting beds, which would be limited to wood, brick, masonry, landscape timbers or synthetic lumber only.

The Zoning and Planning Committee next meets 9:30 a.m. March 22 in room 317 at City Hall.

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League of Women Voters hosts local food forum

Next up in the Minneapolis League of Women Voters’ ongoing Healthy Legacy series is Growing the Local Food Economy, a March 22 forum on local foods and their role in the economy, the environment and public health.

Among the guests scheduled to speak at the forum are LaDonna Richmond, who works in the Food and Justice Program at the Whittier-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, and Minneapolis Health Department Commissioner Gretchen Musicant. Other speakers include Mayor R.T. Rybak, Ward 2 City Council Member Cam Gordon and Rep. Karen Clark (DFL-61A).

There will also be food samples from local restaurants, including the Birchwood Café, Bryant Lake Bowl, Common Roots and others, and a screening of “Dirty Work: The Story of Elsie’s Farm,” a documentary about community supported agriculture by Minneapolis filmmaker Deb Wallwork.

The forum runs 5:30 p.m.–9:30 p.m. March 22 at Plymouth Congregational Church, 1900 Nicollet Ave. For more information, including a full agenda and list of guests, go to lwvmpls.org.

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Annual tree giveaway is back

There may not be any honeycrisp apple trees left by the time you read this, but there’s still time to claim a $25 tree in the city’s annual tree sale.

The city is partnering with St. Louis Park-based Tree Trust to sell 1,500 trees, each about 8 feet tall with 1-inch diameter trunks. They are available to any Minneapolis resident, business or nonprofit organization. Another 400 trees will be given away free to residents of North Minneapolis whose property was damaged in last year’s tornado.

The city reported its partnership with Tree Trust had provided over 7,500 trees to Minneapolis residents over the past five years.

This year’s trees — including Bali cherry, Black Hills spruce, Fall Fiesta maple and other varieties — are available on a first-come, first-served basis. There is a limit of one tree per property.

The trees will be delivered to the Minneapolis Impound Lot, 51 Colfax Ave. N., where they’ll be available for pick up May 12–14. Each tree comes with a free bag of mulch.

There is a limited amount of space available in two free tree-planting workshops hosted by Tree Trust. The first is 10 a.m.–11 a.m. April 28 at Powderhorn Park, 3400 15th Ave. S., and the second is 7 p.m.–8 p.m. May 1 at the University of Minnesota’s Urban Research and Outreach Engagement Center (UROC), 2001 Plymouth Ave. N.

To order a tree, go online to treetrust.org. Minneapolis residents can also order a tree or register for a tree-planting workshop by calling Tree Trust at (952) 767-3886.