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Urban Farm Redux

Community stakeholders address future of city’s urban farms

By Anna Toon, 4:10PM, Fri. May. 3, 2013

HausBar's Dorsey Barger and Gustavo
HausBar's Dorsey Barger and Gustavo
Photo by Katee Boyd

HausBar Farms is back in business, sort of. Following an inspection by city officials, HausBar is now allowed to sell vegetables from their Eastside urban farm. This is good news for urban farmers and the local food community, alike.

While the future of Hausbar's chicken raising operation remains unclear, the Urban Farms Process and Code Coordination working group of the Sustainable Food Policy Board is working diligently to clarify that aspect of the ordinance, among others.

The working group held their second of three public sessions Wednesday night. Designed to gather input from urban farmers and community stakeholders in regard to pending updates to the urban farm ordinance, the theme of the second session was Site Requirements, Commerce, and Labor. Participants wrestled with what requirements farmers must meet to become a certified urban farm, appropriate avenues for selling their products, and identifying what level of enforcement actions may be necessary to regulate urban farms. According to HausBar’s Dorsey Barger, Jerry Rusthoven and Greg Dutton of the city’s Planning and Development Review Department offered good explanations and much appreciated clarifications during this highly attended meeting.

Third-party products and agri-tourism were also addressed. Should farms be allowed to sell products from other farms, and should bed and breakfast enterprises be allowed? While the city is not in favor of third-party products sold at farm stands, members of the working group were very much in support of continuing the practice. According to Heather Frambach, research analyst and urban agriculture planner for the City of Austin’s Sustainable Urban Agriculture & Community Gardens Program, one solution might be to allow for the resale of "agricultural products" with a cap on the total product mix. For example, perhaps only 25% of farm stand products can be from other places.

The next working group meeting will cover Byproducts, Environmental Health, and Sustainability. Details are pending. For more information, contact Heather Frambach at heather.frambach@austintexas.gov or Katherine Avalos Nicely at katherine.nicely@gmail.com.
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