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From Unused To Urban Farm? D.C. Legislator Wants To Put City Land To Use

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Vacant lots could soon be adorned with home-grown produce, if a bill before the D.C. Council passes.
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Vacant lots could soon be adorned with home-grown produce, if a bill before the D.C. Council passes.

Vacant, city-owned lots all over the District could be transformed into small urban farms, under a bill in front of the D.C. Council.

Under the bill, the mayor would identify two dozen District-owned properties, and then lease those derelict sites to farmers.

There’s some land all over the place that I don't think is necessarily going to be ever developed," said David Grosso (I-At Large), one of the bill’s sponsors.

At a hearing yesterday, he said there’s lots of vacant land. For example: the large grassy area at Irving and North Capitol Street NW.

"Why couldn't that be an urban farm right there?" Grosso asked.

Plenty of reasons, according to Mark Chambers, with the D.C. Department of General Services. He says the bill doesn’t address issues like who would pay for environmental testing and cleanup. And of course, there’s the question of rodents.

"It may be particularly useful to require that any parcels required for urban agriculture purposes be made rodent proof," Chambers said, prompting Grosso to reply that his comment was "completely ill-informed."

The bill also includes tax incentives for private property owners who lease land to urban farms.

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