the following is a request from the
Raleigh Urban Ag Work Group, an informal coalition of urban ag and local food activists and advocates. We include members of Advocates for Health in Action, Interfaith Food Shuttle, the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, NC Cooperative Extension, Raleigh City Farm, Sixth Sun, and others. They came together over the summer in response to incomplete proposals for urban ag zoning for Raleigh.
They are working to make community agriculture possible within Raleigh’s Unified Development Code.
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Dear Supporters of Urban Ag in Raleigh
Thank you for showing the City Council that there is real public support for progressive urban agriculture in Raleigh. We collected 1142 signatures and City Council sat up and took notice.
Now, moving ahead, we still need your help!
We have succeeded in our first goal – there will be a public discussion next Tuesday on urban agriculture in the new Unified Development Ordinance!
To show our City Officials that Raleigh is ready for real change and real progress in our local food system, we need your support in three ways:
We have focused our goals to two main issues.
First, we would like Community Gardens allowed as Principal Use in Residential Zones, especially R-10, without the need for a Special Use Permit. The $200 fee for a special use permit is cost prohibitive to many community groups and garden start-ups. Just as prohibitive is the research, paperwork and documentation necessary to submit a Special Use Permit Application. These are time-consuming and present an additional burden to those who would benefit most from nearby gardens. Community Gardens are known to contribute to public health, environmental health, and community health, and these benefits come by allowing opportunities to garden wherever people live, especially within walking distance! (current UDO draft: Community Gardens as Principal Use would require a Special Use Permit in Residential Zones)
Second, we are calling for the allowance of Urban Farms as a Special Use in all Residential Districts as a Principal Use. Urban Farms bring economic opportunity, and can be important drivers of a local food economy as well as energizers of the urban fabric around them. A Special Use Permit, in this case, is important so that the farmers, the City, and nearby residents can all work together on the right size and type of urban farm for a particular location. Not every farm is appropriate for every site, and the Special Use process will help ensure the right farm in the right place. (current UDO draft: Urban Farms would be prohibited as Principal Use in Residential Zones)
2. Share your stories with us! We are collecting stories and specific examples of the urban agriculture that you want to do. Maybe you’re already farming or gardening, or maybe you’ve run into zoning barriers. Maybe you just need the land to get started. We are looking for examples to show to City Council, so that they can see where the real barriers and the real opportunities are. We especially need your urban ag stories if you were working on or looking at a lot in a residential zone, and if you wanted to make your garden or farm the Principal Use on the lot – no house, no other uses going on. Just a garden or a farm on a lot. But we will take any stories of Raleigh Urban Ag you have! Please share!
3. Join us at the City Council committee hearing! The topic of urban ag will be discussed by the Law and Public Safety Committee on Tuesday Dec 11 at 3pm. The meeting will be held in Conference Room 305, Raleigh Municipal Building, 222 W. Hargett Street, in Raleigh. If the location changes we’ll let you know. Your presence alone will send a message to the committee, letting them know that this is an issue that matters to Raleigh.

Let’s take this opportunity to become experts together – all of us, the City Council, the Planning department, everyone in the City. Working together we can find the best answer for Raleigh, starting now. Other cities are taking advantage of this urban ag opportunity to help increase the health, well-being, and self-reliance of households and neighborhoods.
on behalf of the Raleigh Urban Ag Work Group