Virus is changing how urban farms operate, and even what they grow

The coronavirus is forcing urban farms to adapt, creating more space between people and even shifting the types of crops they grow. “We had wanted to plant a ton of snap peas this year,” says Saara Nafici, farm director at Red Hook Farms in Brooklyn, New York, “but harvest will be too labor intensive.” To conform with social-distancing rules, the farm is reducing the number of staff working at a given time and spreading out its washing and packing stations. Lower staffing levels mean adding new work slots, so everyone gets their hours in and the farm work gets done.(No paywall)

Will high-tech urban ag be the future of local food?

High-tech, indoor, urban agriculture is growing in places like New York, but so is controversy around them, according to FERN's latest story, produced in partnership with Edible Brooklyn magazine. The story, by Rene Ebersole, points to one indoor company that produces high-end specialty greens for restaurants called Farm.One. "In a town of eight million, Farm.One is part of a rising movement to cultivate produce where large numbers of people live by using high-tech systems and smart greenhouses placed at grocery stores, in basements and even inside cargo vessels."

Homes or gardens? Tension rises between developers and urban farmers.

In recent years, vacant land in cities across the country has been colonized by community gardens, giving the often-poor residents access to fresh produce. Now, though, developers of affordable housing are targeting those same empty lots, putting them at odds with the gardeners in communities that need both housing and fresh food, reports FERN's latest story, published with NPR's The Salt. No paywall

New York City to offer digital hub for urban agriculture

On a 47-0 vote, New York’s city council passed legislation to create a digital hub meant specifically for urban agriculture, said Metro Media.

New urban legends: Pink Princess and Cosmonaut Volkov

Danielle Marvit, who could fairly be called the tomato maven of Pittsburgh, didn’t hesitate when asked to list her favorites among the dozens of tomato varieties sold as seedlings by Garden Dreams, an urban farm set between vacant Victorian-era houses in Wilkinsburg, Pa.

House bill would give urban growers a seat at the farm-bill table

The USDA could spend more than $1 billion over five years to promote urban agriculture, farmers markets and regional food systems under legislation backed by a dozen House Democrats. Lead sponsor Marcy Kaptur filed the bill with an eye toward its inclusion in the 2018 farm bill, to be drafted soon.

Long Beach may help turn vacant lots to urban farms

City officials in Long Beach, California, are laying the framework for an Urban Agriculture Enterprise Zone program “that would encourage more urban farms to crop up in vacant lots across the city,” says the Press-Telegram.

CA governor signs law to help small-scale seed exchanges

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed an amendment to the California Seed Law, exempting “non-commercial seed sharing activities from industrial labeling, testing, and permitting requirements,” says Shareable.

Getting a grip on urban agriculture’s merits and drawbacks

From small gardens to roof-top farms greenhouses, urban agriculture "is taking off and taking on new forms," says the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, which released a 35-page assessment of the movement.

Los Angeles County to offer a tax break for urban farms

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to reduce property taxes by up to $15,000 for owners who convert vacant lots in unincorporated parts of the county to agricultural use.