Although there is heightened attention being paid to the importance of access to good, healthy, and locally produced food, there are many barriers and challenges faced by growers in Lewiston’s food system. Many of these barriers are in the form of federal, state, and municipal regulations surrounding licensing, permitting, zoning, and land use. Two of the biggest tools available to municipalities to increase flexibility and accessibility in food systems are urban agriculture and food sovereignty legislation. Urban agriculture legislation works towards an increase in food accessibility on the zoning and land use while food sovereignty deals with the licencing and permitting end of food systems. In this report we examine food sovereignty and urban agriculture examples from other municipalities in combination with stakeholder interviewers in order to develop a set of recommendations for food sovereignty and urban agricultural reform in Lewiston. In interviews with local stakeholders, including farmers and other producers, we identified baseline barriers they face in their businesses. We then examined food sovereignty ordinances that have been passed in other Maine municipalities in response to Maine’s Food Sovereignty Act. This research informed our drafting of a food sovereignty ordinance for Lewiston by allowing us to identify the vital parts of other municipalities’ ordinances. Additionally, we explored multiple cities’ zoning and land use codes related to urban agriculture from around the country and compared them with Lewiston’s to inspire potential reforms. We identified several large opportunities for increasing the accessibility of zoning codes in Lewiston including increasing the flexibility of density and setback requirements for bees and chickens on residential properties. Additionally, we recommend the addition of the term “market garden” to Lewiston’s zoning codes in order to bridge the barrier between agriculturally zoned areas and residentially zoned areas. We also believe that the creation of an urban agricultural overlay with solid guidelines to limit residents complaints, would allow for agriculture to thrive in this urban setting. The suggestions outlined in this report and in our deliverables are meant to guide the Good Food Council of Lewiston and Auburn and eventually Lewiston city staff towards making improvements in food accessibility, the local agricultural economy, and food security within the city.
Blood, Eliza; Elfstrom, Oaklea; and Schuster, Larsen, "Opportunities for Food Sovereignty and Urban Agriculture in Lewiston" (2020). Community Engaged Research Reports. 74.