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LA Might Let You Have a Front Yard Farmers' Market

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LA is working to set the fruits and vegetables free, one residential farmers' market at a time. The City Planning Commission will hear a proposed ordinance tomorrow that will allow farmers' markets in residential zones (with a permit) and streamline the approval of farmers' markets in other zones (i.e., agricultural, commercial, manufacturing, and parking zones). Farmers' markets are currently banned in residential neighborhoods, but, in keeping with the trend for retro-agrarian chic, the new ordinance would allow homeowners to grow and sell food at their homes. This follows the 2010 ordinance that allows people to grow fruits, nuts, and flowers at their houses with the intent to sell.

The farmers market ordinance originated in November 2010, when a motion from Councilmember Wesson asked the Planning Department to report on the feasibility of allowing farmers' markets in residential zones without requiring any permits. Planning Department staff stopped short of recommending no-permit markets, but the proposed ordinance will allow farmers' markets in residential areas when they meet certain criteria and complete a public hearing. The criteria cover location, hours of operation, noise, trash, light, signage, and parking (more on the proposed criteria is available here). The ordinance will not, however, affect street farmers' markets, which are permitted by Street Services, so there is no reason to start envisioning Hollywood-style smackdowns in your neighborhood.

This issue stems from a brouhaha over Silver Lake Farms, a backyard operation that was ordered to shut down in 2009 by Building and Safety (owner Tara Kolla tells her side of the story at the Silver Lake Farms website). Planning staff shared a memo with Curbed today saying that the new regulations for farmers' markets will work in concert with the Truck Gardening Ordinance (which took effect in July of 2010 in response to the Silver Lake Farms trouble) to: "promote urban farming and green living and bring 'local' agricultural to a new level by connecting harvest to consumers within neighborhoods." Image via Eastsider LA
· Backyard Farmers Ask City to Free the Fruits, Nuts, and Flowers [Curbed LA]
· 'Fruit & Flowers Freedom Act' Set to Become City Law [LAist]