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Monday, August 13, 2012

Committee on Land Use Continues Discussions on Urban Agriculture

I have to admit that I am loving how my city is turning into farmland these days. During my walks, I am seeing more and more people using what little land they have to grow vegetables and beautiful flowers. There are even people who have no land, but are still farmers in their own right with pots on second floor balconies and back decks. Bushes of basil, parsley, and peppers hang over their containers brought to life by sunlight and rain fall.

New legislation wants to open up municipal land to urban agriculture, giving more gardening space to Somerville residents while other submissions by the Board of Aldermen is seeking to increase the size of the public garden found along the Community Path into Davis Square as the waiting list continues to grow daily (no pun intended). Somerville is certainly becoming a great harmony between bustling city and quiet farming community.

This week, the Committee on Land Use continues conversations on Urban Agriculture through zoning ordinance changes submitted by Mayor Curtatone. The Planning Board has submitted a recommended approval of the change (3-1 vote), but did express concerns over regulation and oversight of these open gardens. During a recent conversation with friends, the issue of rodent activity encouragement came up. This point seems to be absent in most discussions that I have read on the topic.

Inclusion of chickens or other livestock was also brought up by the Planning Board too and even prompted one of the members of the Board to oppose the zoning ordinance change. Believe it or not, there are a few chicken pens in the area, one of which is right by Magoun Square.

Do you have concerns over this ordinance change or want to support it? The meeting is set for Wednesday August 15th at 6pm in the second floor committee room of City Hall.


Anonymous said...

Can you write about meetings in this style from now on? I like it more :D

Ward Five said...

Yes, I will :)


Anonymous said...

Who voted against it because of the chickens? That's silly, as long as they aren't roosters crowing early in the morning. Are they afraid we are going to attract foxes or something?

Ward Five said...


It was Kirylo who opposed based on the livestock portion of the ordinance and concerns over regulation of public gardens.

I think mentioning foxes is very valid. In having conversations with friends, the encouragement of rodent (or other predator) activity came up. I didn't see it in any of the notes from previous meetings, so I'm not sure if it was brought up. Maybe it should?


Anonymous said...

Nothing new about Somerville "turning into farmland."

In my lifetime there were farms of varying sizes thru-out Somerville, and specifically Ward 5,before the building of residences, on those lots ended the farming....and some of the old-timers dying off.

What was raised was for consumption and preserving by the owners; and for sale to others who came by only for that reason.

Indeed, the raising of chickens, rabbitts,goats and horses was evident thruout the ward.

Woodbine Street; "The Patch" consisting of Clyde, Murdock,and Warwick Streets; Alpine Street; Princeton Street; Vernon Street; and several other streets south and east of Magoun Square.

Acreage now filled with houses, garages---or, vacant used for recreation purposes by home-owners.

Then there existed at the time where no money changed hands.
Produce grown by one "farmer" was "swapped" for produce grown by another "farmer"----or "swapped" for obtaining a fresh chicken or goat's milk....and yes, goat meat for the table.

One pony owner on Warwick provided, for a fee, rides for kids and picture taking of kids seated on pony's back.

Different times those days---that will never return due to urburn sprawl and transient population/resident turnover.

Anonymous said...

BTW---as my previous post may have a reader thinking that Alpine, Princeton, etc., were considered part of "The Patch"---they were not.

Only Warwick, Clyde, and Murdock streets were known as "The Patch"---because of their being bordered, north and south, by railroad tracks, and eastward coming to a "point" on the east side of the bridge. That eastward land and "point" from the bridge, was known as "The Flat Iron" becuase of the shape resembling a flat iron used in homes for ironing clothes.

Anonymous said...

Yes I also remember the area on North Street heading towards High St from Powderhouse Blvd. A good size area with a home and a barn where they planted crops in the field. I believe then the stadium was more towards High St on the Parkway and remember it being covered in Ivory and the Weeping Willows in the area.