Some Local Food Growers Have to Get Creative to Find Land in Urban Areas

Hannah Covington reported on the front page of yesterday’s Minneapolis Star Tribune that, “With planting season looming and no place to sow her seeds, organic farmer Jessica Mutunga posted an earnest plea on a neighborhood social network: Can I use your yard?

“After her recent move from Oregon, Mutunga looked forward to tapping into the Twin Cities’ robust appetite for locally grown food. She soon discovered the farm-to-table movement has created intense demand for affordable urban farmland across the metro area.

“‘It was much more challenging than I anticipated,’ said 33-year-old Mutunga, who plans to raise and sell vegetables on an acre of yard space she cobbled together from several homeowners.”

Front page of Sunday’s Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Yesterday’s article noted that, “‘There is a real desire for local food,’ said Jesse Davis, of the Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association. And the Twin Cities, he said, is known nationally as a local food hub.

That has set off a scramble for the land to grow those vegetables and fruits, especially 1- to 10-acre parcels close to metro area markets. Only about 30 percent of the seven-county metro was still being farmed in 2010 — the most recent data available — according to the Metropolitan Council. That number was much smaller in a place like Hennepin County, with a total closer to 12 percent, and projected to shrink.”

Ms. Covington added that, “Newly sprouted farmers are looking for acreage anywhere they can. Some have hunted for the right acreage for years. Others have snatched up community garden plots for their commercial enterprises. More than 20 new community gardens were planted in the metro area in 2016, according to the Minneapolis-based nonprofit Gardening Matters. Last year, it counted 608 community gardens in the Twin Cities, up from 166 in 2009.”

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