Sunday, May 30, 2010

Guerilla Gardeners

We have posted several times on the movement towards urban agriculture (and chickens) and neighborhood gardening.  But sometimes The Man (and zoning and other land use codes) won't allow it. From the Wisconsin State Journal, Guerilla Gardeners: They leave a garden when no one else is looking.

True “guerrilla gardening” — planting in a public place, where one doesn’t have permission — is difficult to confirm and by nature is secret. It’s also illegal, although the city prefers to educate residents rather than enforce a $500 fine for violating tree planting rules, said George Hank, the city’s director of building inspection.
Guerrilla gardeners have their own code of conduct, said John, the East Side guerrilla gardener who the State Journal is not identifying because he also is a volunteer gardener with the city and does not want to lose that position.
“My thought is always that people not mess with other people’s gardens,” John said. “There are so many places that need attention around this city.”

Matt Festa

May 30, 2010 in Agriculture, Environmentalism, Urbanism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Federal Eminent Domain on the Border?

In another example confirming my belief that every legal and policy issue ultimately has land use implications, here's an article that touches on border control, the federal stimulus package, agriculture, and eminent domain.  From the northern border: Vermont farmer draws a line at US bid to bolster border: Homeland Security threatens to seize 4.9 acres.

FRANKLIN, Vt. — The red brick house sits unassumingly on a sleepy back road where the lush farmlands of northern Vermont roll quietly into Canada. This is the Morses Line border crossing, a point of entry into the United States where more than three cars an hour constitute heavy traffic.

The bucolic setting of silos and sugar maples has become the focus of a bitter dispute that pits one of America’s most revered traditions — the family-owned farm — against the post-9/11 reality of terror attacks on US soil.


The Department of Homeland Security sees Morses Line as a weak link in the nation’s borders, attractive to terrorists trying to smuggle in lethal materials. The government is planning an estimated $8 million renovation here as part of a nationwide effort to secure border crossings.


It intends to acquire 4.9 acres of border land on a dairy farm owned for three generations by the Rainville family. Last month, the Rainvilles learned that if they refuse to sell the land for $39,500, the government intends to seize it by eminent domain.


The Rainvilles call this an unjustified land-grab by federal bullies.

Would it make more sense to close such a little-used facility, whether on fiscal grounds or to avoid resort to federal eminent domain?  

Matt Festa

May 22, 2010 in Agriculture, Eminent Domain, Federal Government, Financial Crisis | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Schneider on Agricultural Law: Food, Farming, and Sustainability

Susan A. Schneider (Arkansas) has posted A Reconsideration of Agricultural Law: A Call for the Law of Food, Farming, and Sustainability, forthcoming in the William and Mary Environmental Law & Policy Review, Vol. 34, p. 95 (2010).  The abstract:

American agricultural policy has evolved from its early focus on agricultural development and expansion to its current emphasis on providing economic support for the agricultural sector. Agricultural law as a discipline has tracked this policy, with agricultural law scholars debating the origins and the validity of the special treatment of agriculture under the law. This article reviews these debates and calls for a reconsideration of agricultural law and policy. It argues for agricultural policies that consider the production of safe and healthy food as the primary goal. Agricultural law in this context can address the unique aspects of agricultural production, the fragility of the environment, and sustainability concerns, all in the context of a systemic food policy. Transforming the special law of agriculture to focus on the sustainable production of healthy food is a critical challenge for the future.

Matt Festa

May 12, 2010 in Agriculture, Environmental Law, Scholarship, Sustainability | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Furloughs, Budget Cuts, and Rural Georgia

Tomorrow is a furlough day for the University System in Georgia, which means I'm forbidden to work. Only faculty and staff who provide "essential services" are allowed to report on furlough days and, ironically enough, instruction is not considered an essential service.

These are lean budgetary times and we're all expected to share the burden.  I have no problem with that.  However, it's hard not to be concerned about what lies ahead. The legislature is in its final day and hopefully at the end of it we'll have a state budget for FY 2011.

"What does that have to do with land use," you might ask?  That depends on how much of a cut the University system takes in the final budget.  Last month the legislature asked the Chancellor to submit a budget that included $300 million in additional cuts, over the budget cuts they have already made and were making for 2011.  The Chancellor's proposal would eliminate the 4-H program and cut the number of county extension agents in half.  In a state where agriculture is a dominant economic force, those cuts are extremely significant.  (UGA's Public Service and Outreach branch would also suffer layoffs of up to 47% of faculty and staff.)

It doesn't look as if such extreme cuts will come, but the cut will probably be about $150 million, which is still pretty significant.  In state like Georgia, rural communities depend on UGA to fulfill its land grant mission of service.  Extension agents are vital sources of knowledge on land use practices, soil and water conservation, and a host of other subjects. As federal stimulus dollars dry up, it becomes increasingly difficult for the University to fulfill those functions.  We'll see what lies ahead.

Jamie Baker Roskie

April 29, 2010 in Agriculture, Budgeting, Georgia, Politics, State Government, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pils on Property, Dignity, and Growth in Urbanizing China

Here's another paper posted by Eva Pils (Chinese University of Hong Kong): Waste No Land: Property, Dignity, and Growth in Urbanizing China.  The abstract:

The Chinese state does not allow rural collectives to sell land, but takes land from them and makes it available on the urban property market. While rural land rights are thus easily obliterated, the newly created urban rights in what used to be rural land enjoy legal protection. The state justifies these land takings by the need for urbanization and economic growth. The takings have resulted in an impressive contribution of the construction and property sector to state revenue and GDP growth, but also in unfairness toward peasants evicted from their land and homes. The example discussed here shows that certain economic theories of property rights are consistent with discrimination and should therefore be rejected. A further conclusion is that we must reconsider the claim that property rights are desirable because they serve economic growth. The discussion here contributes to an understanding of property in terms of dignity, rather than wealth.

Matt Festa

April 21, 2010 in Agriculture, Comparative Land Use, Development, Property Rights, Property Theory, Scholarship, Takings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Nothing says "Be Mine" quite like . . . manure

On the 14th I was disappointed that I couldn't think of any holiday-themed items to blog about for Valentine's Day.  But a Minnesota farmer has come to my rescue with seven loads of manure.  From KIMT.com, Local Farmer Makes Manure Valentine:

Bruce Andersland raises cattle and farms near Albert Lea Minnesota, and this Valentine's Day, he's saying "I Love You" to his wife Beth of nearly forty years, in a unique way. . . .

He used his machinery to draw this arrow pirced heart on their farm land, with manure. . . .

After seven loads of fertilizer he let his wife beth in on his big Valentine's wish.

Beth said, "I've had flowers, jewelery, and chocolate, this was something from the heart and imagination and he's very creative and very thoughtful so this was something special."

Bruce said he thought up the idea one day when he noticed just how well the dark manure showed up on the white snow. . . .

It's about a half a mile wide and in order to see the whole thing you need a plane.

So, they hired a pilot to take aerial shots of the Bruce's creation.

Click the link above for an aerial photo of the giant manure heart.  The fun isn't over yet, either:

Bruce said, "now next year we're gonna see if the corn grows a little better in the shape of a heart."

Thanks to John McKinney for the pointer.  Now if only someone would send me a good land use story for Mardi Gras or Ash Wednesday!

Matt Festa

February 16, 2010 in Agriculture, Humorous | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Call for Papers in Urban Agriculture

Special Topic Call: Best Practices in Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture Development.

JAFSCD welcomes research or policy briefs, and case studies (up to 2,500 words) and full articles (up to 8,500 words) on best community-development practices related to:

  • Urban livestock management and regulation
  • Urban market gardening and backyard gardening
  • Marketing and value-adding
  • Waste management and reuse
  • Urban farming by immigrant or other special populations
  • Farming on the fringe
Deadline: June 5, 2010
(The deadline may be extended with permission of the publisher.)
 
Briefs, case studies, and articles should focus on illustrative programs or projects, survey results, literature reviews, and public policy that are related to — but not limited to — land-use planning and regulation, health ordinances or their implementation, training and educational programs, marketing systems or value chains, partnership development, systems approaches, issues of scale, and farm-neighbor relations. We are particularly interested in holistic approaches that combine community and economic development with environmental protection.
 
More background on this topic is at www.AgDevJournal.com.
Matt Festa

February 2, 2010 in Agriculture, Scholarship, Urbanism | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)