April 21-28, 2013

Urban Farmers Expect Bumper Crop

By Matt Baume
|  Thursday, Apr 12, 2012  |  Updated 1:36 PM PDT
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Urban Farmers Expect Bumper Crop

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At long last, San Francisco has legalized the very thing that allowed early humans to begin forming a civilization: agriculture.

Mayor Ed Lee signed a new bill into law that will permit residents to grow and sell produce. Surprisingly, no other city currently has such a provision -- so if you plan on selling lettuce outside of city limits, you're taking the law into your own hands.

Community gardens have exploded in popularity around the Bay Area in recent years, spurred in part by the stagnant market for real estate development. Neighborhoods have realized that vacant lots can be turned into thriving gardens while development stalls.

But while San Francisco is on the cutting edge of urban agriculture, other nearby cities lag behind.

In Oakland, urban homesteader Novella Carpenter turned a blighted lot into a thriving farm over the last decade. But when the city noticed that she occasionally sells some of the produce to support the operation, they decided that she needed to be shut down.

Oakland officials admit that their laws are embarrassingly out-of-date. They'll debate changes later this year.

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