Kansas City Council looks to grow urban farms

Kansas City Council looks to grow urban farms

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

The Kansas City Council is looking to expand its efforts from growing gardens in backyards to turning vacant lots into farms.

Urban agriculture is a growing business, especially over the past decade.

The Planning and Zoning Economic Development Committee recommended the council on Thursday approve the creation of a nine-member urban agricultural zone advisory committee to help create economic incentives.

"As opposed to saying we'll take all comers, it's really trying to put some order to it so those interested in urban agriculture know what to expect from us and how to plug into the system," said City Councilman Scott Wagner.

The hope is to turn vacant lots into working farms.

"Whether it's unused buildings, unused property, vacant properties and lots, this is an opportunity to use the property that may not be developed for years into something that is productive, on the tax rolls and provides jobs," Wagner said.

The city has been focused on urban gardening but now wants to grow into more large-scale urban farming through property tax and water rate breaks.

Katherine Kelly, an urban farmer who is executive director of Cultivate Kansas City, said economic incentives would be helpful for getting more midsized and larger businesses to spring up. The hope is it will spur residential and business growth.

"Being in the city, no matter what you do, requires cooperation. Urban agriculture is no different," she said. "It can utilize those vacant lots and property in a way that creates beautiful and productive green space. It takes what was once blight, with a fair investment of new soil and infrastructure to get it going, it turns it into something useful."

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