Dallas City Council has passed a new plan for increasing food production in Dallas in a bid to increase sustainable and local agriculture.
During the March 8 council meeting, the members approved the Comprehensive Urban Agriculture Plan (CUAP) as proposed by the Office of Environmental Quality and Sustainability and prepared by Agritecture Consulting.
The CUAP opens by suggesting, “Today’s cities are experiencing rapid urbanization. … Food supplies are vulnerable to disruptions from extreme weather, labor shortages and a lack of diversified production.”
“Food is traveling farther to reach consumers, and is coming from fewer, increasingly large farms,” the document explains. “Few municipal governments have established plans to ensure their food system is sustainable and resilient.”
The now-adopted plan seeks to address “gaps in the resiliency of Dallas’ food system by providing five key recommendations to increase local production, food sourcing and access through increased agricultural activities.”
One of the program’s primary goals is to “Increase by 20%, 50%, and 75% the acreage of urban gardens producing foods by 2030, 2040, and 2050.”
To achieve this end, the CUAP lists five target goals for implementation:
- “Reduce Regulatory Barriers
- Support Land Access
- Provide Urban Agriculture Education, Resources, and Support to Dallas Residents
- Facilitate Collaboration and Partnerships Among UA [Urban Agriculture] Stakeholders
- Build Market Opportunities”
According to the plan, the regulation changes “should be the first priority for implementation, as they will immediately reduce the regulatory barriers for new and expanding UA sites.”
Other proposals include establishing a process for converting City-owned vacant land into urban agriculture uses, producing educational resources, creating an Urban Agriculture Advisory Council, and reducing barriers to selling produce locally.
Kathryn Bazan, a resident who supports the plan, applauded the program during public comment, saying, “We have one more tool to close the gap between families and their ability to access healthy, affordable food.”
The development history of the CUAP goes back to 2018, when City Council adopted the Resilient Dallas Plan, which “identified challenges posed by food deserts and identified efforts to improve local public health,” according to the resolution.
In 2020, City Hall passed the Comprehensive Environmental and Climate Action Plan, seeking to identify “measures to ensure that ‘All Dallas’s communities have access to healthy, local food’” by formulating a plan for urban agriculture.
The City approved a two-year contract up to $250,000 with Agritecture on August 25, 2021, to develop the plan alongside the Office of Environmental Quality and Sustainability.
While the company worked on the plan, City Council also adopted the Racial Equity Plan, which included language supporting “the local urban agriculture ecosystem in communities in priority equity areas.”
The development of the CUAP came after “robust community outreach,” which included “stakeholder interviews, community and neighborhood meetings,” according to the resolution.
The CUAP was adopted as part of the consent agenda and did not encounter any debate.
While the benefits of urban agriculture have been widely celebrated in recent year, some still urge caution about reliance on the practice. A 2018 study published in the journal sustainability by researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, for instance, suggested that urban farming’s rewards are limited by questions of economic viability, the difficulty of integration into city zoning and other policies, and the hurdle of community engagement and support.
Upon the passage of the CUAP, Jeffrey Landau, Agritecture’s director of business development, told The Dallas Express, “This is a milestone for the City of Dallas.”
“This plan lays the groundwork for the City to build organizational capacity and partnerships around the urban agriculture ecosystem,” he continued. “Only a handful of Cities in the U.S. have as comprehensive of an urban agriculture plan.”
“Our team commends the Office of Environmental Quality & Sustainability for listening, talking, and working with the urban agriculture community to better address the needs of urban agriculture stakeholders in building a more resilient equitable food system,” Landau concluded.
Before it became a “thing”, many of us were advocates of Urban Farming.
For almost a decade, people like me have been following “The URBAN Farmer” Curtis Stone.
It was amazing to see what he accomplished while starting with very little cash.
Curtis Stone freely shared what he has learned and has interviewed many others around the world.
He has a tremendous video archive, and has come a very long way in his evolution towards freedom and independence.
This is a wonderful idea but why is this going to take up to two years to make any decisions? Dallas is so bad about getting things done and paying so much money on “plans” and then nothing happens.