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Urban Planner Addresses Possibilities, Limits of Local Food Movement


Kansas City, Missouri – Kansas City recently passed an ordinance allowing home gardeners to sell produce in residential areas. The new rules made Kansas City one of the first cities in the country to define what's being called "urban agriculture": differentiating home gardens, non-profit community gardens, and small-scale commercial ventures. Opponents to the ordinance are concerned that it's commercializing residential neighborhoods.

But supporters say there's a larger movement that goes beyond planting and selling produce. That's the message Domenic Vitiello, brought to a summit on Food Policy at the Kauffman Conference Center this week. Vitiello is a professor of urban planning and expert on urban food policy at the University of Pennsylvania.

Vitiello says urban agriculture looks different in cities across the country, but you can look for collaborations with non-profits, small-scale canning and processing of locally grown goods, and partnerships with groceries and restaurants. He says commodities grown in urban gardens are still expensive and inaccessible to many, and that it's too early to know whether community gardens actually improve health or provide economic benefits.

But Vitiello argues many cities already have seen positive economic and social benefits.

This story was produced for KC Currents. To listen on your own schedule, subscribe to the KC Currents Podcast.

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