Urban Agriculture in Columbus is a report that examines the applicability and benefits of urban agriculture for the City of Columbus. Working with the city’s Land Redevelopment Office, we set out to understand more about the impact and potential benefits of urban agriculture for local communities in the city of Columbus, and determine the regulations and policies needed to help develop effective urban farming and gardening projects in the future.
We began this process by visiting urban farms sites in Columbus and talking with urban farmers. Our first farm visit was to the Clarfield Farm, formed in 2012 by Urban Farms of Central Ohio (UFCO) with the help of the Mid-Ohio Food Bank. This farm is providing food to local communities in and around south Columbus and is selling its produce to local restaurants. We then visited a proposed urban agricultural garden close to Italian Village that is to be leased to A&R Development Group, owners of the Crest Gastropub. This group is interested in utilizing this urban farming project to support their local restaurants as well as enhance Columbus’s food economy in a sustainable way. We also investigated other farms around the city.
From our visits and conversations with urban farmers and community gardeners as well as our extensive examination of the literature on the value of urban agriculture, we determined the potential ways in which Columbus could benefit from encouraging farming activities in the city. There are numerous locally sourced restaurants in the city that could use fresh produce from city farms; lower-income neighborhoods where there are few large-scale grocery stores could benefit from farms and gardens providing healthy fresh fruits and vegetables; neighborhoods in the city with many abandoned and desolate empty lots could be transformed by urban agricultural projects that increase surrounding property values and help reduce crime. As we identify in this report, there are many economic, health, ecological and social benefits from urban agriculture.
Many cities have developed specific zoning regulations and policies to enhance urban farming and urban gardening within their jurisdictions. For this report, we analyzed urban agricultural zoning codes and ordinances from six cities, including Austin, Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, and Pittsburgh. We also talked with planners from some of these places. Each city has established regulations surrounding such activities as the sale of farm products, the management of farm animals, the site design, and soil quality. Utilizing and adapting information from this analysis, we developed an urban agriculture zoning ordinance specifically for Columbus. The details of this zoning ordinance are available in the Appendix of this document.
We also offer a number of different policy areas that the city can investigate so as to further enhance urban agriculture. The city needs to establish protocols and regulation for stormwater management, permitting, soil quality and land tenure so as to support urban farming and community gardening in the city.
In addition, we identify a number of different criteria the city can use to determine potential sites for future urban agricultural projects in the city of Columbus.