Public Meeting July 14 on Community Gardens, Urban Agriculture

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Public Meeting July 14 on Community Gardens, Urban Agriculture

Posted: 07/03/2014
July 3, 2014 - With increased interest in community gardens and locally produced foods, the City of Knoxville is ready to propose changes in the zoning ordinance that will make it easier for individuals and community groups to establish community and market gardens on privately held land.

Anyone interested in community gardens, urban agriculture, and sales of produce from these gardens is invited to a public meeting from 5:30 p.m.-7 p.m. on Monday, July 14, at Cansler Family YMCA, 616 Jessamine St. The city's Office of Sustainability is hosting the meeting and leading the effort in consultation with other city staff and members of the Knoxville-Knox County Food Policy Council.

The City of Knoxville was a Top 20 Finalist for the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge in 2012 for its "Urban Food Corridor" plan to develop a holistic program to increase agricultural production in the City. Additionally, both Plan East Tennessee and the Knoxville-Knox County Food Policy Council have identified local food production and healthy food access as priority areas for the Knoxville-Knox County region. The City has developed proposed zoning changes to facilitate healthy food production and access and is seeking public input.

Feedback from the public meeting and from other comments will be addressed as the Office of Sustainability prepares final recommendations for ordinance changes, which would then go to the Metropolitan Planning Commission for review and recommendation before coming to City Council for approval.

Under the proposed ordinance changes:

Personal gardens will continue to be unregulated, and construction of garden structures will continue to follow standard permitting.

A "community garden" would be allowed as a "use by right" in all zones, up to a maximum of 10,000 square feet. Composting would be required in bins not to exceed 5 percent of the lot size.

Any garden larger than 10,000 square feet, or which utilizes hydro/aquaponics, would be considered a "market garden" that could be allowed as a primary use with a "use on review" in all zones, requiring approval by the Metropolitan Planning Commission. Certain regulations would apply to composting.

For both types of gardens, structures such as garden sheds and greenhouses could be permitted with standard building setbacks. Non-structure uses, e.g. plantings, would be set back 5 feet from the perimeter. No parking would be required. Registration of the gardens would be required with the Office of Sustainability, but no fee would be assessed.

For both types of gardens, sale of produce would be permitted on site with a "Seasonal Sales of Produce" permit. On-site sales would be limited to produce grown on site with a $100 permit that must be renewed each year.

Bee keeping would continue as a use by right, whereas urban hens would be allowed only for personal use under current regulations.

If you are unable to attend the public meeting, you may obtain additional information after July 14 by contacting the Office of Sustainability at or 865-215-2065.