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City staff proposes plan to allow green-thumbed Londoners to sell their own produce

A new proposal from London city staff would expand on local residents' ability to grow and sell their own produce.
A new proposal from London city staff would expand on local residents' ability to grow and sell their own produce. J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo

A fresh idea from London city staff aims to allow urbanites to sell their produce directly to fellow residents year-round.

City staff outlined their idea in a report headed to London’s planning and environment committee on Monday afternoon.

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Currently, Londoners are only allowed to sell produce grown on their property two days per year.

City staff want to see this limitation altered, writing in their report: “The wide variety of what could be grown and sold from a private garden could likely span more than two occurrences a season.”

The report also expands on permitting farm gate sales within the urban growth boundary, an area that’s within London’s city limits.

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There is currently no land within the boundary zoned for agriculture. The fee to zone land within the boundary for agricultural use is $11,000, a price that city staff sees as “cost-prohibitive for small-scale growers and food distributing organizations.”

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Outside the boundary, more than 30 farms in the London area sell their produce directly to customers, according to city staff’s report.

Allowing farm gate sales within the urban growth boundaries would mean that small-scale farm markets in the core of the city could do the same without the fear of an $11,000 zoning fee.

City staff’s report identifies Urban Roots London as one such small-scale farm market.

Urban Roots London is a non-profit organization that takes underused land and revitalizes it to make it fit for agriculture.

City staff said they plan to present a zoning bylaw amendment at a future planning and environment committee meeting that would permit farm gate sales at the organization’s Norlan Avenue location.

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The city staff proposal has garnered support from the Middlesex London Food Policy Council (MLFPC), a group that includes local government, Indigenous groups, farmers and research institutions.

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The MLFPC aims to foster a healthy, equitable and ecologically responsible local food system and expressed its support in a letter to the planning and environment committee from council chairperson Paul Shand.

Shand wrote that the MLFPC advocates for any regulatory change that encourages Londoners to engage in urban agriculture, which, he wrote, “can be part of healthy and vibrant local food systems.”

Shand’s letter goes on to add that the policy change could increase access to local produce.

City councillors will have their first crack at debating the idea when they meet as the planning and environment committee on Monday.

Full city council will have a chance to rubber-stamp the idea as early as next week.

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