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Panel Focuses on Rise in Boston's Urban Agriculture

By Kristina D. Lorch, Crimson Staff Writer

Agriculture advocates argued that Boston has become a national leader in promoting urban farming at a panel discussion at the Law School on Tuesday afternoon.

The event, hosted by the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Harvard Food Law Society, featured  panelists from the City of Boston’s Office of Food Initiatives, the nonprofit organization Trust for Public Land, and Fathom, an information design company that created a mobile application to help farmers find land for urban agriculture in Boston.

Much of the panel conversation centered on Article 89, a city-wide zoning ordinance passed into law in Dec. 2013 that makes it legal for Boston residents to grow and sell their own produce.

Panelist Chris LaPointe, a senior project manager for the Trust for Public Land, cited affordability and accessibility as two challenges faced by urban farmers. Despite these difficulties, panelists agreed that the local government in Boston has been very receptive to proposals designed to make urban agriculture more accessible.

For example, Alex Geller, who works on information design at Fathom, said that when her company first approached City Hall with a proposal for the application, officials were excited about the idea of engaging Boston residents in urban agriculture through technology.

After the event concluded, Allison B. Condra, a senior clinical fellow at the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation, said the group would have needed another hour to continue the discussion.

—Staff writer Kristina D. Lorch can be reached at klorch@college.harvard.edu.

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