The Oakland City Council has taken important steps to simplify the spread of urban agriculture in our communities. Until recently, expensive permits were required for residents to be able to grow food in empty lots, and the parameters of the restrictions were unclear. A policy change spearheaded by the Oakland Food Policy Council now allows fruits and vegetables to be grown on private land in most areas of the city.
After the matter sat in deliberation for 4 years, 450 resident’s signatures were gathered, urging the Planning Commission to come to a final decision. They asked for a clear definition of the language around Urban Agriculture and the conditions under which permits are required. “In most cases, people operating small farms with no livestock will fall under a new ‘Limited Agriculture’ category and will be able to sell their produce without needing to apply for permits.” This is a step in the right direction, down a long road towards food sovereignty in Oakland, and Food Policy Council director Esperanza Pallana has no plans to slow down. The organization is working closely with Edible Parks Task Force, another local organization, looking towards access to public land for urban agricultural use.