Minneapolis CPED Housing and Economic Development staff has reviewed the City’s vacant property list to determine which parcels might be appropriate for lease for urban agriculture and draft criteria for leasing this land.
If you live in Minneapolis, please call your city council member before November 10th to convey your support for the proposed criteria, with amendments. Please take a moment to read through the background information below. Call to City Council members are one of the most effective ways to impact policy changes on an individual level. Your representatives WANT to here from you.
A public meeting was held on October 23 to take comments on the proposed criteria, linked below:
Draft criteria and lease standards for community gardens on City-owned vacant property
Draft criteria and lease standards for commercial gardens (market gardens or urban farms) on City-owned vacant property
The policy recommendations and a list of vacant properties to be considered for community gardens and commercial market gardens will be presented to the City Council’s Community Development and Regulatory Services Committee on Tues., November 10th and, if approved, to the City Council on Friday November 20th.
On Tuesday, the meeting will be at 1:30pm in the City Council Chambers. Staff will ask for a "show of hands" for support. If you are able to attend to show your support in person, that would be great!!
Gardening Matters comments, which will be submitted in writing, are as follows (Read the Full Letter):
- The proposed criteria are a good starting point for meeting this goal. We especially appreciate the reduction of liability insurance from $2 million to $1 million. Liability insurance is a significant barrier for many urban growers, and this change allows community gardens to be insured with organizations that carry only $1 million insurance or to be insured with the insurance company that partners with the American Community Gardening Association.
To truly increase land access and tenure, we ask that you consider the following improvements to the proposed criteria:
- The security deposit needs to be eliminated completely for both urban farmers and community gardens. Gardening Matters consistently hears that the security deposit is a barrier to land access. For lower-income volunteer gardeners, paying a security deposit is often impossible. If a group would like to garden on several parcels, the security deposit becomes insurmountable.
- The fee for urban farmers to lease land is needs to be significantly reduced. Urban farmers make very little profit. They also invest significantly in improving the soil and care-taking the property. If this fee needs to be tied to market value, we suggest decreasing it to .5%-1%.
- The process for getting the option to purchase a vacant lot for urban agriculture purposes needs to be clarified. Currently, the language in the proposed criteria notes a property will be considered for sale “as appropriate” without any indication of the criteria or process for deciding what is considered “appropriate.” These criteria could represent a significant opportunity for ownership, particularly in communities who have a history of disenfranchisement, but the process needs to be clearly stated to result in land ownership.
- The method for giving priority to community gardens needs to be clarified, both initially and as leases expire. We are happy to consult to determine a method to give community gardens priority.