Yvette (left), Anna (middle), Karissa (right), and JC (front)

It is our pleasure to present our very special guest for today’s episode!

Anna Prizzia – Director of UF IFAS Field & Fork and Board Member of Working Foods
Karissa Raskin – City of Gainesville Civic Collaboration Specialist
Yvette Thomas–  Planner for the City of Gainesville

Different stakeholder groups, UF IFAS Field & Fork, Working Foods, Levin College of Law Conservation Clinic, Food System Collation, local farmers, and others have come together to present a draft on Urban Agriculture. This ordinance has been drafted by different entities around the local food system and it’s your turn to have your voice heard! You can comment on the draft until Feb 21stPLEASE SUBMIT YOUR COMMENTS HERE.

This ordinance looks to become an amendment to the City of Gainesville Land Development Code. As an amendment, the ordinance will legitimize and protect different kinds of urban agricultural practices in the City of Gainesville.

What is the importance of Urban Agriculture?

Urban agriculture serves multiples purposes in the community. First, it allows citizens to grown and access fresh, heathy foods. It teaches the community the process of growing and harvesting food, changing the relationship and connection we have to food and food systems. Urban agriculture serves as a community builder and helps create resilience in neighborhoods. Growing your own food does not only serve nutritional needs, but also supports emotional health and community’s health.

There is an important economic impact on urban agriculture, it provides access to healthy food in a fast-moving world and allows for people to start a business out of what they grow and harvest! It helps our carbon footprint since food does not need to be shipped for long distances to reach its destination.

Urban agriculture is a game changer in areas where its hard to access to fresh fruits and vegetables, or areas where supermarkets have left leaving communities in need of healthy foods!

What are some misconceptions on Urban Agriculture?

People usually associate ordinance with restriction or further restriction of something. This ordinance for urban agriculture ads legitimacy and protection to community garden, farm stands, and a variety of activities that need security to operate. As an example, gardens, and market farms have been disbanded because there was not a land code in place that would legitimize the use of land. Because of this, the end goal is to add the ordinance to the Land Development Code to create a structure where these activities can exist and not disbanded in the future.

Some people think about community gardens as something “nice” and “cute,” but they will not acknowledge the potential for food producing that exists within community gardens. As an example, UF IFAS Field & Fork produces 8000 lbs. of food in a 1/3-acre property each year!!!

What is needed to spread the words about urban agriculture? How can I make a difference?

Anna emphasizes the power of networking. Networking between people who work around the food system is crucial to share resources, ideas, and advocacy efforts to change policy.

It is also needed to understand what it takes to grow food during all stages. That is why exposing younger generations to food systems and its practices can help shape desired habits. Urban agriculture touches different sectors of society, from emotional and nutritional benefits, to economic, educational and sustainability benefits, urban agriculture shows individuals how they can be part of their food systems.

How to get involved?

Comment on the draft, have your voice heard!!!! From small comments to very details comments, there’s a space for all comments. The city and the parties involved want to create and ordinance that meet everyone’s needs. Also, it is important to remember that no ordinance is final, it changes constantly to adapt to the needs of the citizens.

Are you from out of town & would like to see these changes happen in your community?

Other communities have done this before!!!! Research about best practices, and how it has worked in other cities or states!!! Look for communities that look like yours mirroring diversity, scale, size, and research how they have accomplished their goals!

What is still needed in the City of Gainesville for urban agriculture to fully succeed?

Some of the most important barriers are the lack of finance opportunities, and the lack of business support services and value-added services for food entrepreneurs.

How can citizens help overcome these barriers?

Get to know your farmers, learn about what grows in your community, show interest in food systems. Find and get in contact with your local Food Policy Councils or Food System Coalitions, these institutions bring people together to think about food systems issues and looks for opportunities for improvement.