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AHA improves the health and well-being of Wake County residents by facilitating and supporting community initiatives.

Some Wins, Some Losses for Real Food in Raleigh

Circle 1If you’ve been following the News & Observer and AHA’s news feed, Facebook and Twitter, you know that urban agriculture and the food desert issue have been making headlines.

For several months now, a team of individuals calling themselves the Raleigh Urban Ag Work Group (@RaleighUrbanAg), have been meeting to offer City of Raleigh’s Mayor McFarlane and select City Council members with proposed changes for the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) to support urban farms and community gardens where residents most need them. The Raleigh Urban Ag group is comprised of Advocates for Health in Action, the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA), the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS), Cooperative Extension, the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle (IFFS), Raleigh City Farm and Sixth Sun, along with a few individuals.

Among the proposed changes were allowing community gardens and urban farms in residential zones with certain restrictions; creating a new category of garden called a “market garden,” which is a garden run by an individual or group that sells its products on-site or off-site; and other similar changes. The overall goal is to reduce barriers to gardening and farming for lower-income families in residential areas of Raleigh where fresh, local food is needed most.

The outcome was mixed.

While the team was able to convince city leaders of the need to zone high-density residential areas to allow for community gardens without special permitting, Raleigh Urban Ag Work Group will return to the City in the New Year to work on the market garden and urban farm issues.

However, for families living in the USDA designated food deserts in South Raleigh, this small win is big, especially in light of the closing of two Kroger groceries slated for January 2013.

Read the News & Observer articles here.
1) Urban Farm Advocates Seek Friendlier Turf
2) Raleigh, Community Gardening Advocates Seek Common Ground

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