Influence Policy Changes in Your City or State

Become inspired to create change in your community to promote accessibility to local agriculture in the big cities.

| October/November 2018

  • new-policies
    From left: Carol Gilmore, Laura Odell, Russell Mullin, and Emily Ryan were among those who helped shape the new policies in Lawrence, Kansas.
    Photo by www.marybethduda.wixsite.com/dudaphotography
  • bees
    Rachel Cunning, a Lawrence resident, keeps bees and chickens on her urban homestead.
    Photo by Caitlin Wilson
  • food-policy-council
    Unexpectedly, surveys sent out to community members in Lawrence, Kansas, revealed that people wanted some allowances the city already granted. This showed that an important aspect of having an effective policy is having an equally effective way to communicate and share those policy changes with the community. To get the word out, the Douglas County Food Policy Council teamed up with the county sustainability office and Emily Ryan to create easy-to-understand booklets and brochures outlining the urban agriculture policy changes to pass out to community members. The city of Lawrence also made these materials available on its website at www.LawrenceKS.org/Urban-Ag.
    Photo by Douglas County Food Policy Council
  • home-bakers
    From left: Dela Ends, Lisa Kivirist, and Kriss Marion helped gain rights for Wisconsin’s home bakers.
    Photo by John Ivanko
  • family
    Dan and Brooke constantly strive to improve their community, and they believe others can too.
    Photo by www.AllisonCorrin.com
  • urbavore
    Since the policy changes have taken effect in Kansas City, Brooke Salvaggio and Dan Heryer have established their home and latest farm, URBAVORE, on 13.5 acres that had been sitting vacant for 60 years within Kansas City’s urban core. To learn more about URBAVORE and Dan and Brooke’s journey, you can visit www.UrbavoreFarm.com.
    Photo by Rebecca Martin
  • urbavore
    Brooke and Dan set up a free residential composting program at their urban farm to help transform local food and yard waste into a valuable resource.
    Photo by Rebecca Martin

  • new-policies
  • bees
  • food-policy-council
  • home-bakers
  • family
  • urbavore
  • urbavore

Changing local policies can be daunting, whether you’re working alongside officials to create solutions, or engaging your community to fight for your collective rights. We’ve gathered three firsthand accounts of folks who’ve helped transform their place on the planet at the city and state levels. Common steps led to the success of all three: speaking up, including the community, finding allies, and persevering. We hope you’ll be inspired by them and know that, no matter how daunting, positive change is possible when we work together to achieve common goals.

MOTHER

Livestock and Pollinator Policy Changes in Lawrence, Kansas

When the conditions are right, planting a seed may be all it takes to reap a bounty. When making a case for urban agriculture in Lawrence, Kansas, the seed was a simple question about placing a bee hotel at a university farm site on the edge of town. The bounty turned out to be an opportunity to help define and build a set of policies specifically geared toward making urban agriculture more accessible. These policies would open the door for city residents to grow crops in their yards; sell their produce on-site; and keep goats, sheep, fowl, bees, and other small agricultural animals in town.

Organize the Effort

At the time, city policy didn’t allow for beehives within city limits, so the university that oversaw the student farm site was initially unwilling to have a bee hotel placed there. Knowing that a bee hotel for solitary bees is very different from an entire hive of honeybees, some of us began searching for solutions. Local grower Emily Ryan and I soon found ourselves at meetings for the Douglas County Food Policy Council, a diverse group of about 20 individuals who represent the many aspects of our local food landscape. The food council took our question about keeping bee hotels to the city of Lawrence. The city commissioners were interested in looking at urban agriculture as a whole because of the need to establish standards for the crop agriculture uses that were already allowed, so they initiated an amendment to the city code, and city/county planner Mary Miller worked with the food council to come up with a proposal. Before long, I became a representative on the food council as well.



To define what “urban agriculture” meant for local residents, we first needed to understand the needs and wants of our community. We sent out electronic surveys to inform our draft policy and then held a public forum to review it and gather comments. The feedback we received was invaluable and formed the foundation of our efforts. Not only did it give us a look into what folks wanted, but it also gave us a way to prioritize, introduced ideas we hadn’t considered, informed the public of what we were working toward, and strengthened our case when we presented our changes to the city commissioners.

Unexpectedly, our surveys revealed that people wanted some allowances the city already granted. This showed that an important aspect of having an effective policy is having an equally effective way to communicate and share those policy changes with the community. To get the word out, the Douglas County Food Policy Council teamed up with the county sustainability office and Emily Ryan to create easy-to-understand booklets and brochures outlining the urban agriculture policy changes to pass out to community members. The city of Lawrence also made these materials available on its website.






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