COMMENTARY: Urban Agriculture is a win-win for Tucson

The Tucson Urban Agricultural Zoning Amendment looks solid and well written, with language that leaves it flexible and open to changes as they become needed by growers. I like that it addresses the sale of food to both neighbors and stores/farmer’s markets which is hugely important. I signed a petition for the amendment (below) and wrote a comment encouraging its passage based on the need for local food security and all the financial and environmental benefits. I grew up on a small organic hobby farm outside of Tucson and we used to sell our fruit and veggies, duck eggs, honey and goat milk to local people and shops.  Local agriculture brings in money to the local economy, keeps it here longer, and avoids costly public health and food safety issues.

When you produce food at home, you make it the very best you can because you and your children are eating it.  Safety and quality always come first in that situation and you only sell your surplus which was cared for in the same way. Unfortunately, today only about 1% of the US population is involved in agricultural production, including all meat and dairy production. 65% of that 1%, are over the age of 55, and new farmers are in sort supply. The vast web of related benefits from local agriculture include better health and decreased health care costs, less demand for food stamps, extra cash for families that is mainly spent locally, more CO2 sequestration and oxygen produced by the plants, increased honeybee habitat and forage, reduced pesticide runoff into city water, increased rainwater retention in soils which eventually adds clean water to the aquifer, more community cohesion which reduces crime and poverty, and learning and self-esteem building for children and adults. And those are just the bullet points!

I encourage everyone to strike while the iron is hot and send this to your friends to sign too. These zoning review periods only happen rarely and can stay closed for a decade at a time. This is a serious window of opportunity for urban food producers and those who enjoy having access to local organic goodies even if they don’t grow it. Let’s leave a legacy of local resilience and regeneration for this and future generations of Tucsonans!

You can read and sign the petition here

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