News Release
City Services

July 28, 2011

Mayor Emanuel Introduces An Ordinance Supporting Urban Farms

Mayor Rahm Emanuel today introduced an ordinance supporting the creation of urban farms and gardens

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Today, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Alderman Ameya Pawar introduced an ordinance that will promote the expansion of urban agriculture and community gardens throughout Chicago.

“This ordinance is an important component of a comprehensive strategy to eliminate food deserts in Chicago while creating jobs,” said Mayor Emanuel. “By making it easier for communities to turn vacant lots into urban farms, we can help transform eyesores into engines of local economic activity that will supply fresh fruits and vegetables to the neighborhood.”

“By revising our zoning code, we can remove serious obstacles that have hampered the development of urban agriculture in Chicago,” said Alderman Pawar. “Passing this ordinance will unleash the full potential of Chicago’s urban farmers and community gardeners, expanding access to fresh, healthy foods in neighborhoods throughout the city.”

If approved, the proposed changes would:

  • Expand the size limit on community gardens to 25,000 square feet.
  • Relax fencing and parking requirements on larger commercial urban farms to hold down startup costs.
  • Allow for hydroponic and aquaponic systems and keeping honey bees under set conditions.

Approximately half a million Chicagoans lack access to fresh, healthy produce in their neighborhoods.

Mayor Emanuel first announced his plans to introduce the proposed ordinance on Tuesday at the Bridgeport neighborhood’s Iron Street Farm, a seven-acre farm that will create hundreds of jobs for Chicago residents. Mayor Emanuel first visited Iron Street Farm earlier this year during the campaign to announce his goal of eliminating food deserts and increasing access to healthy foods for residents across the city.

The ordinance introduced today by Mayor Emanuel and Pawar is a component of the City’s comprehensive plan to combat food deserts. On June 15, Emanuel convened a food desert summit with the CEOs of major grocery chains to address the issue of food deserts in Chicago. On June 29, Emanuel unveiled a Walgreens initiative to build more than a dozen new stores, add fresh produce to 39 existing stores located in food deserts, and create 300 new jobs in underserved communities.