The city of Boston took a step into modern food production by amending a past omission in its urban zoning code to include commercial agriculture. Before Article 89 was approved, commercial agriculture in Boston city limits was not permitted for the simple reason that no provisions had ever been made for the activity in the existing zoning code.
Article 89 deals with range of food-production activities, from ground-level or roof-level farms, composting, aquaculture, farmers’ markets, soil safety, and the keeping of hens and bees.
Changes in municipal zoning codes are a part of this increasing trend in modernizing urban land use. Article 89 is the result of three years of collaboration and pilot farming projects jointly overseen by the office of Mayor Marty Walsh’s Office of Food Initiatives, the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA), and the Mayor’s Urban Agriculture Working Group.
According to the City of Boston website, “this is about unlocking opportunities for entrepreneurs, building healthy communities, teaching young people about food production, and supporting the local food movement.”
The city implemented community gatherings, Twitter, and Working Group meetings in the process of drafting the final draft article. Unanimously passed by the Zoning Commission on December 18, 2013, the final step towards approval will be the signature by Mayor Walsh.
Bruce Bickerstaff, who represents the Roxbury Neighborhood Council, said that Article 89 creates space for urban farming “not as a novelty but as a legitimate business proposition in a burgeoning industry.”