‘Market gardens’ allow sale of harvest on site

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City approves change to boost urban farming
COVINGTON, Ky. - Community groups and budding urban farmers who grow vegetables, herbs, flowers, and other plants in Covington will now be able to sell their harvest on site as well.
The Covington City Commission voted 5-0 tonight to allow so-called community gardens to become “market gardens,” subject to various regulations and conditions as spelled out in the ordinance.
“The whole concept of urban farming is gaining in popularity, as is the appeal of locally grown food, so we’re making it easier for Covington residents to expand their garden-to-table operation into something that’s financially sustainable,” said Alex Koenig, Covington’s Zoning and Development Specialist.
“It adds such a neat dimension to our neighborhoods that some people - playing off the existing ‘historic preservation overlay zones’ - have been joking that market gardens are part of the City’s ‘hipster overlay,’ ” he said.
The change might soon have practical impact: The City has been leasing property it owns on Russell Street to a community garden that would now be authorized to buy the property and (and become a “market garden”) under the change.
Specifically, the Commission voted to amend its Zoning Ordinance to: 
  • Add the definition of “market gardens.”
  • Allow them in any residential neighborhood but require approval from the City’s Board of Adjustment.
  • Fix an oversight to allow community gardens (basically “market gardens” without the on-site retail) - in the Linden Gateway District around MLK Jr. Boulevard.
  • And spell out rules, regulations and requirements for market garden operations designed to limit the potential negative impact on neighbors. These have to do with things like fences, compost piles and setback requirements. 
Koenig said it’s helpful to understand the scale of what’s intended - not monstrous operations that draw customers from many miles away but neighborhood-oriented gardens selling to neighbors.
“Market gardens shrink the whole concept of ‘buy local' to a neighborhood level,” he said.
However, because the City recognizes that it is introducing commercial uses to residential neighborhoods, it’s requiring that each operation get approval from the Board of Adjustment, an appointed panel that reviews and approves exceptions to basic zoning rules, he said.
“That way, if any neighbors have concerns, those concerns can be raised and will be addressed,” Koenig said.
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