Posted by & filed under Food Philosophy, Uncategorized.

A couple days ago, I got an email from some folks I hadn’t heard from — or about — in quite a while, the Oakland Food Policy Council. The email asked me to sign a petition to the Oakland City Council encouraging them to act on reducing the barriers and restrictions on urban agriculture activities in Oakland.

Back in 2011, I went to a large meeting that explored community interest in urban farming and sought feedback on how the city should develop and/or update its guidelines to permit and regulate a variety of urban farming activities.

Hosted by the city’s Community and Economic Development Agency and the Oakland Food Policy Council, the main areas of focus were on establishing standards, practices and conditions for urban farm management; developing clear regulations for animal husbandry, apiaries and aquaponics; setting rules for the sale of fruits, vegetables and animal products in residential and other zoning areas; addressing concerns such as noise, odor and pesticide use; and exploring how the city could best promote urban agriculture.

There was a lot of excitement and enthusiasm in the crowd that night. People walked around wearing chartreuse “I (heart) Urban Ag” stickers, there were samples of locally grown fruits and vegetables, and someone even brought a goat indoors on a leash.

The crowd of 100-plus thoughtfully perused the numerous information stations, gathering flyers about urban ag topics and writing their feedback and concerns on big flip boards with multicolor pens. Speakers from the city seemed engaged on the issues and enthusiastic to work with the community and advocates from the FPC to craft new forward-looking urban ag policies for Oakland.

It felt like a movement was afoot.

And then: nothing.

In the four years since that meeting, the city has still not moved forward on the urban ag issue. And for four years I didn’t hear a peep from the city or from the Food Policy Council either, not even a status update on the results of the original meeting.

This week’s FPC email seeking support on the petition and asking folks to attend a Planning Commission meeting arrived out of the blue, a mere 48 hours before the meeting, which is scheduled for tonight.

Oaklanders have been at the forefront of the urban farming movement for many years now, so I have no doubt there is still strong interest in policy reform around this issue.

Whether supporters will turn out at a moment’s notice after being out of the loop for several years is another matter entirely, however.

If you can to go, the meeting is tonight, Wednesday, June 4, at 6 pm at City Hall, 1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza Oakland, CA 94612, Sgnt Mark Dunakin Hearing Room 1.