Table of Contents:   


Urban Agriculture/Community Gardens




Local, homegrown food builds community, improves health and
reduces reliance on the global economy.

Section Summary

The general consensus that emerges in this section is that Portlanders of all income levels should have access to multiple sources of fresh, local food. There are no opposing viewpoints voiced, just many requests for more local gardens, more urban agriculture and even greater community awareness around the benefits of local food. Portlanders envision a future in which eco-roofs, converted parking-lots, vacant lots and other under-utilized spaces provide local, healthy and affordable food for the city’s residents. Many also envision more community education around urban gardening, permaculture and the “how” and “why” of local food production. A major theme that runs through this section is equity in access to local food. Respondents consistently express the need to increase access to local food among low-income populations so all Portlanders can benefit from the region’s agricultural abundance.

Summary of Main Ideas

  1. Portlanders value access to high-quality, local food and want to facilitate its production and consumption.


  1. Portlanders value access to high-quality, local food and want to facilitate its production and consumption.
  • Many Portlanders are proud to live in a city that provides so much access to fresh, locally-produced food.
  • Many envision a future in which most of the food Portlanders eat is produced locally (one person says 80% produced within 50 miles).
  • Portland is envisioned by many as a “food mecca with vibrant nearby agriculture.”
  • Portlanders see many benefits to supporting local food production, including:
    • Reducing dependence on fuel;
    • Building a strong local economy;
    • Improving residents health and reducing obesity;
    • Building community by connecting neighbors to each other as well as to food producers;
    • Combating pollution;
    • Increasing people’s connection to nature;
    • Fostering regional self-reliance; and
    • Creating a more vibrant urban eco-system.
“[In 2030] everyone in the city is fed by farmers markets, cooperative stores, and grocery stores that sell food grown in Oregon, Washington, and Northern California. Many people have urban gardens that provide lots of food (just like Cuba), people keep chickens and rabbits in pens in their yards.”

“[In 2030] Most people are gardening at least a little bit in their yards or community plots. Portland supplies the vast majority of its own food from within a 100 mile radius. Neighborhoods have village squares, car share clubs, community childcare, community farmers within the neighborhoods…We have neighborhood orchards and community commercial kitchens for value added production.”

“[In 2030] each neighborhood grows lots of their own vegetables, grains, and protein sources… The terms ‘green building’ and ‘organic food’ become so normal, affordable, and commonplace that they are just referred to as ‘building’ and ‘food.’"

Retail Outlets:

  • There is strong appreciation for the fact that local food is already available at many retail outlets (New Seasons is mentioned as an example of what should become the norm);
  • Many respondents would like to see even more local produce available at grocery stores, especially those that service lower-income neighborhoods.

    Farmers Markets:

  • Overwhelmingly, respondents value neighborhood Farmers’ Markets.
  • Some respondents would like to see a big, full-time Farmers Market downtown similar to the Pike’s Place market in Seattle.
  • Many respondents would like to see even more farmers markets in Portland, especially in low-income neighborhoods that currently lack access to fresh, local food.
"[I would like to see] farmers markets, community gardens within walking distance (.5-1 mile) of every household.”

Sample Strategies:

  1. Have the City provide free space for farmers markets in low-income neighborhoods to reduce vendor fees and have that reflected in lower produce prices.

    Urban Farms and Community Supported Agriculture:

  • People want to encourage the growth of community supported agriculture groups (CSAs) and would like to see more Portlanders accessing these groups.
  • In particular, people would like low-income individuals to have greater access to CSAs.

Sample Strategies:

  1. Change Zoning to encourage urban farming.
  2. Create City-owned CSAs in different neighborhoods. Residents could design these and use them to grow their own food.
  3. Create “a fund that would allow people who can’t make lump payments--which many CSAs require--to make incremental payments.”
  4. Provide subsidies so low-income people can participate in CSAs.
  5. Create “a regular food showcase that features that incredible diversity of food entrepreneurs and farmers.”

    Home Gardens/Food Production:

  • Respondents envision many more people growing food at home by converting backyards and front yards into food-producing gardens.
  • Many people would like to see more green roofs and rooftop gardens throughout the City on both public and private buildings.
  • Some people want to see more chickens and goats in urban areas combined with more education on how to raise and care for livestock.
"I think we could create projects to introduce community gardens (like the Diggable City) but also focus on green roofs like, for example, they are doing in Chicago.”

Sample Strategies:

  1. Tax breaks for backyard vegetable gardens and/or incentives to turn lawns and parking strips into gardens.
  2. “Make it legal to have several hens and one rooster on a standard 50 x 100’ lot.” [Currently, roosters are not allowed to be kept within city limits; residents are allowed to have up to three chickens without a permit.]
  3. Increase community education/learning for children and adults around the benefits of local food production and how to grow their own food using different techniques, such as organic gardening and permaculture.

    Community Gardens:

  • Some envision community centers and gardens in every neighborhood that grow food for the local residents.
  • Many want to see low-income populations gardening more, which could lead to improved health and nutrition, greater self-sufficiency and stronger community networks.
“[In 2030] instead of multiple unit, cookie-cutter townhouses and condo units, the city’s empty lots have become community gardens and small farms providing food for many and education for younger generations.”

Sample Strategies:

  1. “Help with the community garden at 16th and Johnson.”
  2. The City should purchase vacant lots for community food production.
  3. “A city-supported gardening center to be the hub for all other gardening associations—a single place where a city dweller can go to get information about all of Portland’s gardening world.”
  4. “I would like the community garden program to have a Master Plan in which the city plans how to have a community garden within walking distance of everyone.”


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