Land Access and Permanency & Urban Agriculture Alliance
How it started
In September 2009, Gardening Matters and Midtown Farmers Market had a film series highighting the need for permanent land for urban agriculture. Shortly thereafter, Land Stewardship Project and Kingfield's Farmer Market joined the effort to find some solutions to securing land. But unfortunately, there were no easy answers. In order to open the conversation up to other folks, we held a community gathering at the McKnight Foundation offices in April 2010, to discuss and explore options together. This meeting also revealed a desire for an organized body of people to advocate, support, and advance the urban agriculture, ranging from community gardens to farmers markets to urban farms. Our thanks to Linda Alton (MN Technology of Participation) for facilitating this very dynamic meeting and for putting together the engaging summary!
Over the next year, these two efforts continued to meet, but their work was given a boost when in October 2010, Brandon Born from Seattle, WA shared their experience with developing a Good Food Alliance and helped the large community gathering to develop four parameters for moving forward.
"Gas in the Car"
Early in 2011, the McKnight Foundation provided funding which provided capacity for moving the conversations forward. Another community gathering was held in April 2011, which further focused conversations about forming an Urban Agriculture Alliance and about Land Access. You can read for more about the conversations. The meeting resulted in consensus in several items.
- We need improved access to land for agricultural uses, and we need more permanent access to land.
- An urban agriculture coalition has the potential to help build a common vision and common language among our community and assist with networking and communication among all members.
- We need more research, particularly economic research, to measure the benefits of urban agriculture.
- The urban agriculture movement offers great potential for green job creation and economic and community development.
Facilitated by Maggi Adamek of Terra Soma supported by John Brosnan, both of these efforts resulted in strategic plans by the end of 2011.
The Land Access work resulted in a strategic plan for a Twin Cities Agricultural Land Trust, a body that would hold land or development rights to land, and assist local communities in owning their own land, and ensure good relations between landowners and metro growers. Contact kirsten@gardeningmatters for an paper copy of the Strategic Plan and the Executive Summary. City of Land Community Land Trust (CLCLT) is the fiscal agent for the continuation of this work. Contact Jeff Washburne for more information.
The framework for an Urban Agriculture Alliance was pulled together by the Advisory Committee, a diverse group of people recommended by the facilitator with the experience and background for developing a strategic framework for an Urban Agriculture Alliance that could then be tweaked by members in the future. The MN Landscape Arboretum was nominated by the Advisory Committee to be the fiscal agent for the Alliance work. You can download the strategic plan or call Kirsten at Gardening Matters for a hard copy.
Fixing a broken food system, making our communities more livable, giving everyone the opportunity to engage in growing plants and community -- all these require a coalition of partners to include residents, organizations, businesses, public agencies alike. Together, we are rebuilding the infrastructure to support healthy food growing, cooking and preserving. Together,we are rebuilding people's connections to the earth and to each other through our greenspaces for healthier, more resilient communities.
Gardening Matters remains committed to collaborative solutions and we are still active in development of the Urban Agriculture Alliance and in finding long term land access solutions to enable community gardens and other community food projects to reach their full potential in nourishing their communities in body, mind and spirit. We continue to provide education to landowners about community gardens, advocate for proactive public policies, and help gardeners work through landowner issues, and the many other forms of outreach, education and connection! --Kirsten, executive director