Lots of Potential

Urban Ag program helps everyone win

By Gabrielle Myers
December 2022

While newer landowners benefit most thanks to their higher assessed values, veteran property owners also benefit.

“This program provides some leverage for urban farmers to approach landowners and make the case that landowners will save money if urban farmers are allowed to turn their vacant lot into a community garden or another type of urban agriculture,” Yang says.

A farmer can meet with the owner, get permission to farm and submit an application with simple documentation, such as a letter of agency and a contract.

Earl Withycombe, a community leader and one of the first property owners to participate in this program, says owners benefit in many ways. Withycombe turned his property into a hub for urban agriculture and community-minded investments with the Oak Park Sol Community Garden and Alchemist Microenterprise Academy and Kitchen Incubator Program.

He says the program “makes sense financially and reduces maintenance costs.” With the land in use, he doesn’t have to clear trash every year or pay weed-abatement fees for fire prevention.

One potential barrier is the requirement for a metered water connection or approved well on site. While the landowner could find and perhaps revamp old connections, many vacant lots have never been inhabited and don’t have water connections. The cost of installing a water line can range from $600 to $2,600 or more, depending on location.

Yang and her team are sensitive to the water challenge and “internal conversations are ongoing” on how to best address it, she says.

I’d love to see our community develop a fund in partnership with the city or independently to help pay for water connections. The health and vigor of our communities would pay us back many times.

Imagine the nourishment we can bring to residents and their children, regardless of socioeconomic situations. We all deserve access to our region’s cornucopia of fresh fruits and vegetables to nurture bodies and minds and contribute to a great city.

For information, visit cityofsacramento.org/community-development/planning/long-range/urban-agriculture.
To determine the amount of tax incentives your property might qualify for, email the assessor’s office at asr-agriculturalteam@saccounty.net.

Gabrielle Myers can be reached at gabriellemyers11@gmail.com. Her latest book of poetry, “Too Many Seeds,” can be ordered from fishinglinepress.com. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.

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