I spent the holiday season back in New York with my parents, which gave me time to get distance and perspective on this past year, and to get excited about moving forward with Flint River Farm in 2011. This month we'll be presenting to the Land Bank board for the opportunity to secure a lease with an option to purchase for the lots on Beach Street. This will enable us to increase local, residential land ownership, to have security in the resources like time and money and infrastructure that we put into the land, to create a permanent and intentional space for urban agriculture, to contribute to the city by paying business taxes, to make our neighborhood more permanent, safer, cleaner, to increase visibility, to work with and sell directly to neighbors, as well as lots more.
We are also in the process of researching and reaching out to professionals about raising hoop houses in the city. Currently, the Michigan Building Code exempts agriculture buildings from needing a building permit under the Construction Code Limited Exemption For Agricultural Buidings ("building permit is not required for a building incidental to the use for agricultural purposes of the land on which the building is located if it is not used in the business of retail trade), but not necessarily exempting them from zoning. In researching city of Flint zoning ordinances, A-1 Principle Permitted Use claims that "...Customary agricultural uses including noncommercial nurseries and greenhouses, but expressly excluding the keeping of farm animals."
The problem is that while nursery is defined as "a structure or use where live trees, shrubs, or plants are grown, tended, or stored and offered for retail sale, including products used for gardening or landscaping, but not including a structure or use principally for the sale of fruits, vegetables or Christmas trees," Greenhouse is not defined.
In the coming weeks make sure to check back for posts on custom printed t-shirts to advocate for hoop houses in Flint, fermentation journals (yes, saurkraut, kimchi, beer and yogurt), as well as information on participating in a buying club for bulk foods (flour, sugar, dairy, meat, olive oil, onions/garlic, salt).