Supporting Community Gardens & Urban Agriculture in South Bend: A Policy Approach

Rachel Dupont

South Bend is in need of an urban agriculture reform. People in South Bend want to practice certain forms of urban agriculture, but are restricted by unintended constraining policy. The urban chickens ordinance and the allowance of urban beekeeping are a great start to expanding and implementing urban agriculture into city code. Other practices, such as community gardens, may be in use in South Bend today, but do not follow legal code, restricting their ability to expand and flourish. The city and its residents can benefit by implementing new urban agriculture practices and expanding the ones they already have in order to increase overall health, environmental sustainability, and local economy.

Dupont Urban Garden

As South Bend strives to become an All-Star level Let’s Move! City, the city has committed to multiple initiatives, including the explanation and reform of urban agriculture. The urban agriculture and community gardens strategy recommendations given by Let’s Move! includes policy changes, public support, and public land use. The City’s main goal is for urban agriculture, including but not limited to community gardens and public gardens, to be accessible to all people of South Bend and facilitate the process for residents to create and partake in them. In light of these goals and initiatives my capstone's action plan was made to guide and promote South Bend on how to reform and encourage urban agriculture.

There are two primary forms of urban agriculture. Extensive, less intensive and intensive, less extensive practices of urban agriculture have a significant amount of benefits, but also have shortcomings, especially when they are practiced separately from each other. The urban farms, CSAs, and other intensive, less extensive practices are great ways to practice urban agriculture in that they make a city into a vibrant, denser, and economically more stable city, but they have some shortcomings. These for-profit practices of urban agriculture only cater to the upper and middle class, thus make healthy, local food even more inaccessible than it already is. Lower income populations will not be able to afford the food produced by a for-profit urban farm. While the for-profit urban agriculture ventures potentially make healthy, local food less accessible, the other form of urban agriculture, the extensive, less intensive practices, generally are nonprofits that promote food accessibility and feeding a community as a whole.

Dupont Touring Garden

There are many examples of how the City, local businesses, and nonprofits could work together to promote urban agriculture. The City cannot view the two forms of urban agriculture as mutually exclusive as all the practices of urban agriculture come together to build a resilient and sustainable food system. The local food system is not just urban agriculture practices either, it is the practices, the restaurants, the consumers, the markets, that all come together to supply South Bend residents with local, healthy foods.