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Vacant Land Assessment for Urban Agriculture in North Minneapolis.

Goellner, Emily.

Afro Eco exists to organize a new relationship between Pan African people and the land they inhabit. Food sovereignty in North Minneapolis is a more important issue now than ever. Struggles for food security matched with the overwhelming underutilization of land have led to the need for a study that informs organizers how to move forward in accessing the land for local food production.

In order to increase local food production in neighborhoods of North Minneapolis, vacant land owned by public entities was assessed for its suitability and feasibility for urban agriculture projects. Public entities include City of Minneapolis Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED), City of Minneapolis Public Works, Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA), Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB), Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS), Hennepin County, Hennepin County Tax- Forfeited Land Program, and Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT).

The study began with an assessment of the public entities and their policies related to urban agriculture. Beginning with 20,635 parcels in North Minneapolis, parcels were eliminated from the suitability analysis for various reasons. A site analysis was performed on 620 parcels and 135 are highly recommended for urban agriculture projects. City of Minneapolis CPED owns the majority of those parcels. A significant amount of parcels are in Tax-Forfeiture, a process administered by Hennepin County.

Three key barriers exist in current public policy related to land access. These barriers hinder the utilization of publicly owned vacant lots for local food production. First, the importance to public entities of serving the public purpose prevents the use of lease agreements for market gardens. Second, development pressure in the urban core is seen in competition with urban agriculture and it prevents innovative partnerships. Third, the belief that urban agriculture is not the highest and best use of vacant land prevents significant growth in local food production.

Many dedicated individuals and groups are working hard to make progress toward a local, sustainable, empowering food system. It will not be an overnight success, rather a progression of successful projects that create a movement. This study highlights the suitability and feasibility of vacant lots in order to inform organizers in moving forward. This research will likely inform a North Minneapolis Urban Agriculture and Community Development Plan in the near future.


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Conducted on behalf of Afro Eco. Supported by the Kris Nelson Community-Based Research Program, a program of the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) at the University of Minnesota.
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