Mayor Menino Announces Start of
Community Meetings on Urban Agriculture in Boston
Progressive zoning would support growth of urban farming
(BOSTON - June 3, 2013) Mayor Thomas M. Menino today announced the
release of draft urban agriculture zoning to support the growth of
farming citywide and the start of a series of community meetings to
review the recommendations. Article 89 will create clarity and
predictability regarding food growing, fish farming, and hen and bee
keeping in the city. It also expands locations for farmers markets
and farm stands, and introduces a soil safety protocol. Eleven
community meetings will be held in June and July to vet the draft
recommendations before the final zoning is completed. A Twitter chat
is also planned for those who cannot attend a meeting in person.
“Urban agriculture is an innovative way to improve city life,” Mayor
Menino said. “Farmers make good neighbors and better our
communities. Growing food in city limits means better access to
healthy food, while growing a sense of neighborhood unity and
greening our city.”
In January 2012, Mayor Menino launched the Article 89 zoning
process. The Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) and the Mayor’s
Office of Food Initiatives held 17 public meetings with the Mayor’s
Urban Agriculture Rezoning Working Group made up of farming
advocates, experts and interested citizens appointed by Mayor Menino
in summer 2010 to advise and guide the rezoning initiative.
Most agricultural activities are not allowed in Boston under current
zoning code. By addressing a wide range of these activities, Article
89 will increase access to healthy food, promote community building,
and help beautify neighborhoods. A copy of Article 89 is available
for download on the Boston Redevelopment Authority website (www.bostonredevelopmentauthority.org)
and via this link - http://bit.ly/1aX7XZo.
Article 89 Summary
· Urban farms: from conventional, small-scale, ground-level ‘mom and
pop’ non-profits to high-tech, innovative rooftop commercial farms.
Article 89 will not impact community gardeners or backyard
o Ground-level urban farms up to 10,000 square feet and roof-level
farms up to 5,000 square feet would be allowed in almost all parts
of the city. Larger farms would require Comprehensive Farm Review
o Roof-level greenhouse farms would be allowed in institutional,
industrial, and large scale commercial zoning districts, and require
further review everywhere else.
· Comprehensive Farm Review (CFR): Staff level review conducted by
the BRA to ensure that farms are good neighbors. CFR will be
required for ground-level farms larger than 10,000 SF and roof-level
farms larger than 5,000 SF, with some exceptions for farms in
industrial and institutional districts. The 45-day process requires
abutters to be notified and farm site plans to be reviewed by the
· Soil Safety: Boston is a national leader in establishing a soil
safety protocol for urban farms. Under the new zoning farmers would
be required to place a barrier over existing soil, plant their crops
in raised beds, and test the imported soil.
· Hens and Bees: Article 89 doesn’t change where hens and bees can
be kept in the city, as already defined by the existing zoning code.
Any changes regarding the keeping of hens and bees would be done on
a neighborhood by neighborhood basis. Article 89 defines the
permissible size of beehives, coops, and the numbers of allowed hens
and beehives, and other size and maintenance requirements, in zoning
districts where hens and bees can already be kept.
· Farmers markets and farm stands: allowed anywhere retail is
allowed by underlying zoning, public hearing required for all other
· Hydroponics (soilless planting): possible in most zoning
districts, including small scale facilities in residential
· Aquaculture (fish farming in tanks) and aquaponics (a combination
of hydroponics and aquaculture): facilities up to 750 square feet
will be allowed in most zoning districts, including residential
· Composting: may occupy up to 5% of the lot area of a farm.
Article 89 will be amended to reflect community feedback received
during the neighborhood meeting process this summer. The final
zoning adoption, slated for December 2013, will require BRA Board
approval and Zoning Commission approval.
Article 89 is a next step in growing urban agriculture in the city,
a process that began in November 2010 when Mayor Menino launched the
Urban Agriculture Initiative to pilot urban farming on two city
owned parcels in Dorchester. In November 2011 the Boston Zoning
Commission passed an amendment on the two parcels at 23-29 Tucker
Street and 131 Glenway Street, which established an Urban
Agriculture Overlay District within the Greater Mattapan
Neighborhood District. This allowed the parcels to be used for the
cultivation of plants, herbs, fruits, flowers, and vegetables and
composting of materials produced on the site. The Tucker Street
location is being leased to ReVision Urban Farm and the Glenway site
is being leased to City Growers.