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Urban Agriculture Policy Overview
The Urban Agriculture Ordinance was signed into legislation on April 20, 2011 to officially recognize and permit edible gardening and urban farming throughout San Francisco. The ordinance amends the City planning code to allow food production for personal use (personal consumption or sharing) and public use (donation or sale), provide guidelines and requirements for urban farms, and regulate sales of harvested products and value-added goods.
Urban gardeners and farmers may need to obtain permits for their activity depending on the zone, neighborhood, size of operation, and several other factors as well as comply with physical and operational requirements. The San Francisco Planning Department processes urban agriculture permits in the City. Permits fall under two categories: “Neighborhood Agriculture” (projects less than one acre with additional consideration depending on the parcel’s existing zoning code) and “Large-Scale Urban Agriculture” (generally, projects one acre or larger).
Other agencies involved in the guidance and regulation of urban agriculture activity include the following:
- San Francisco Planning Department provides zoning permits for urban agriculture projects.
- San Francisco Public Utilities Commission regulates water conservation requirements for urban agriculture.
- San Francisco Department of Public Health provides permits and oversees regulations for animal husbandry projects, provides soil testing guidelines and regulation of hazard mitigation, regulates food and value-added product sales on urban agriculture sites, and regulates farmers’ markets and provides production certificates.
- San Francisco Department of Building Inspection oversees requirements and regulations for built structures.
SF Environment’s role is to synthesize and disseminate information to the public on operational and permitting requirements set forth by various City agencies. SF Environment also is collaborating with the San Francisco Urban Agriculture Alliance to facilitate the development of a comprehensive Guide to Starting a Garden or Urban Farm Project in San Francisco.
San Francisco is habitat for 800,000 people – meeting needs for space to work, play, and learn; for food, water, and air; for community with local flora and fauna. SF Environment provides support for urban agriculture and forestry and green buildings, helping residents and businesses harness environmental opportunities.