Land access for food production in the city \

Considerations and tools for looking for a potential site Key considerations for producers who are LOOKING AT POTENTIAL SITES on the private land bank system include: 1)parcel size 2) water access, 3) minimum and maximum lease terms (five year terms are required for many federal grant programs), 4) any restrictions on site access (farmers work longer hours than many and odd hours), 5)sunlight/ orientation of land 6) site use history/ red flags for potential contamination issues and 7) restroom access and other potential food safety concerns based on the site layout and constraints. Key considerations for producers who HAVE FOUND A PARTICULAR SITE and are considering signing a lease or purchase agreement include: 1) soil sampling to become aware of any contamination issues 2) ensuring that the site has no urban food production zoning restrictions 3) making sure you are making an agreement with the legal owner by looking at ownership on the office of property assessment website 4) making sure you can resolve any restrictions on produce sales at the site, if that is one of your goals 5) figuring out liability insurance for the site, for your produce sales, and for any off-site markets. Below are some tools to help you with these considerations.

Link and Document Resources:

  • Soil Contamination Issues
    This publication by the EPA, Reusing Potentially Contaminated Soils for Urban Gardens, has great tips on things to consider when choosing a site to grow on.
  • Siting a Garden
    This publication discusses some important considerations for a potential garden site like orientation of beds and sun/shade considerations
  • PWD Ownership
    This Philadelphia Water Department site allows you to plug in a Philadelphia address (top right corner) and retrieve initial parcel ownership information while doing a search by neighborhood. Always check ownership information before signing a lease agreement.
  • OPA Ownership
    This Philadelphia Office of Property Assessment site allows you to look up property ownership using different data sets.
  • Brownfields and Urban Agriculture
    This EPA guide has some great ideas for dealing with potentially contaminated soils under consideration for food production.
  • Philadelphia Zoning Code Overlay Map
    This site allows you to look up a parcel and see what the zoning district is.
  • Philadelphia Zoning Code
    This site brings you to the zoning code itself. Section 9-213 applies to farmers' markets. Section 14-609(4) applies to accessory agricultural structures like hoophouses and greenhouses. Section 6-301 applies to food establishments, and includes food safety certification standards. Section 14-401 defines accepted uses in residential districts, including what urban agriculture uses are accepted (see bottom of use charts for urban agriculture). Section 14-402 defines accepted uses in commercial districts, including what urban agriculture uses are accepted.Section 14-403 defines accepted uses in industrial districts, including what urban agriculture uses are accepted.
  • PHS Land Bulletin Board
    Privately held land posted by PHS members