In groups and city planners emphasised that

In the United States, several cities have tangible urban
agricultural systems in place, with the cities of Boston, Los Angeles, San
Francisco, San Antonio, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Seattle, Portland and, recently,
Detroit currently zoning for urban agricultural space. In Detroit, a city
experiencing rapid urban decline in the wake of the global financial crisis, it
is estimated that 5,000 acres under tillage could provide up to 28,000 jobs and
70% of the city’s food needs (Detroit Free Press, 2011). For the City of
Boston, the Conservation Law Foundation (2012) claims urban agriculture could
reduce the city’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; with 50 acres (over 20
hectares) of properly managed soils sequestering about 114 tons of carbon
dioxide (CO2) per year, and potentially enabling an additional CO2
reduction of up to 4,700 tons per year, and generating approximately 1.5
million pounds of fresh produce for sale into local markets. Many of these
cities in North America have passed legislation for urban agriculture that
ensures its legal status, despite significant urban population densities.

December 2013, the City of Boston established ‘Article 89’, which essentially
legalised, through a two-year zoning and community consolation process, various
forms of urban agriculture, including rooftop gardens, in the inner city and
wider metropolitan area. This process included consultation with local
communities and an urban farm pilot project. In Boston, community groups and
city planners emphasised that urban agriculture is a participatory, proactive
response from the city to address issues of social, economic and environmental
and food justice (Thornton, 2017).

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In line
with the global view of urban agriculture, food production and marketing had
long existed in the city (Warner, 1987), but no frameworks had previously
existed to support it (Kaufman & Read, 2016). As Popovitch (2014:1)
explains, “with over 40 food truck companies, a pilot residential composting
program, 200 community gardens, 100 school gardens and 28 farmer’s markets,
Boston was in need of a framework for its growing sustainability
efforts”. In one example, the non-profit Victory Programs operates an urban farm (ReVision Urban Farm) on land that was previously vacant city land.
‘ReVision’ hopes to address issues of food and social justice in the
neighbourhood of Dorchester, where convenient access to fresh food outlets are
extremely limited. The lack of availability of fresh produce creates a
habituated reliance on foods with low nutritional value, such as highly
processed foods and fast foods. Upon determining that local residents do not
“understand vegetables” and therefore leafy greens do not feature at the dinner
table, Victory Programs started teaching cooking skills to residents (‘Rachel’, ReVision Urban Farm, personal communication,
17 April 2013). Many of these residents eventually participate in the urban
farming activities, such as developing seedlings and selling produce at local
farmer’s markets and community supported agriculture. Insights learned from the
passage of ‘Article 89’ and ReVision Urban Farm reflects Foo et al. (2014: 176), in their study of
vacant land in Boston. Foo et al. in recognised
that community gardening is an
“activity that challenges negative perceptions of economically depressed areas by
creating new functions and values of space within neighborhoods”. They found
that policy change in urban land use begins at the neighbourhood-scale, where
residents can influence urban land-use policy and transform vacant city land
into meaningful spaces of social interaction. 

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