It looks like urban farming is now officially sanctioned as a development option in Buffalo. Mark and Janice Stevens will pay $1 a year to lease 27 parcels (about 2 acres in all) from the City of Buffalo, where they will start with about 60 raised beds, hoping eventually to test and amend the soil underneath those beds. The city requires only that the farming be conducted “in a neat and orderly fashion,” and that the produce be sold within the city.
The Stevenses, as I’ve reported before, initially wanted to buy the land, but the city still has hopes that eventually houses will once again occupy the empty space. As these are among thousands of such empty spaces in the city, not to mention all the abandoned houses the city owns, I am most skeptical about those hopes. But it’s part of the “this is the way we’ve always done things” mindset that is so prevalent in city governments everywhere.
So good luck to the Stevenses! As promised, I will be over there taking pictures as they get their operation going. I’d also like to draw your attention to two really neat Buffalo blogs that look at city living in interesting ways. The first is David Torke’s Fix Buffalo. David has graciously allowed me to use his photography here. The title of David’s blog says it all; he focuses on Buffalo’s east side, our most blighted area (Michele and Susan got a tour last year).
For completely different reasons, I also love writer/chef Joe George’s blog Urban Simplicity, in which he talks about growing corn in his front yard, all the things you can carry on a bike, and how to make great bread, among other things. Joe would hate to be called a locavore or an advocate of sustainable living. Maybe he even hates it that I’m calling out his blog here. But I think many of you will enjoy it.
ADDENDUM: I neglected to mention that there is talk of enacting a Right to Farm law in Buffalo, an unusual step for a city to take. More on that as it evolves (or doesn’t evolve). Also, as David notes in comments, had the Stevenses purchased the land, their efforts would have been subject to zoning and other legal hurdles that would have considerably delayed any farming endeavor. So perhaps this “try it and see” decision was the best.