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Getting Farming into the City

Touch the Soil News #880 (Feature photo Great Seal of Long Beach, California)

While an industrial farm may manage tens of thousands of acres, the number of potential young farmers that can leverage into an operation of this size is virtually non-existent. The farming revolution of today is how new farmers are starting – in the city.

This trend is supported by changes in tax laws that provide incentives to put urban land into agricultural production. Long Beach, California – a city of almost 500,000 – just passed an agricultural land tax ordinance to promote getting land into agricultural production. Essentially, the idea is to give landowners a tax break if they put idle lots into agricultural production for at least five (5) years. To qualify for the program, vacant lots must:

  1. Be between 0.10 to 3 acres in size.
  2. Have no habitable structures; all on-site structures must be accessory to agricultural use.
  3. Not have any part of the lot listed on the Department of Toxic Substance Control’s EnviroStor Database.
  4. Be within Long Beach City limits and comply with City zoning codes.

Urban agriculture can be defined by varying types of farming activities, including community and educational gardens, commercial farms with farm stands and more.

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