Urban Agriculture Task Force

Swiss chard in container garden

The Community Development and Public Health Departments have been working in partnership with the Food and Fitness Policy Council as a jointly created Urban Agriculture Task Force to explore issues surrounding the development of urban agriculture in Cambridge. This initiative seeks to develop ways to help improve the availability of, and access to, healthy and affordable food as well as support sustainable, economic, and educational opportunities involving urban agriculture and innovative technologies in urban farming within the City. The Public Health Department’s work on Urban Agriculture is funded in part by Mass in Motion.

The Task Force has been engaged in a process to propose a comprehensive urban agriculture ordinance that will take into account a broad range of urban agricultural activities. Activities that are under consideration include but are not limited to ground level and rooftop farming, hydroponics, aquaponics, small-scale neighborhood gardens, the keeping of honey bees and hens, and the production, sale, and donation of agricultural products in both residential and commercial districts.

The Task Force has been assigned with developing a proposed ordinance that includes zoning explicitly to allow agricultural activities, and, regulations to support and limit activities.

Upcoming Hearings on Beekeeping Proposal

Two hearings (below) will take place in early October to consider a proposed amendment to the Zoning Ordinance that would permit beekeeping as an allowed accessory use in Cambridge, subject to permitting through the Cambridge Public Health Department (CPHD).

Click here to view the draft Cambridge Public Health Department regulations for henkeeping, beekeeping, and soil safety.

Planning Board Hearing

6:30 P.M. Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017
City Hall Annex, 2nd Floor Conference Room
344 Broadway

City Council Ordinance Committee Hearing

3:30 P.M. Thursday, October 5th, 2017
City Hall, 2nd Floor Sullivan Chamber
795 Mass Ave


March 22, 2017

CDD and Cambridge Public Health Department staff presented an overview of the state of the Urban Agriculture policy and solicited feedback from the community.

Click Here for the Presentation

September 26, 2016

The Urban Agriculture Task Force held a farming focus group with representatives from Community Development, Public Health, Inspectional Services, and local farming experts on topics including soil, rooftop farming, container gardening, freight farms, and more to understand the barriers and opportunities in urban agriculture policies.

Joint Meeting: Ordinance & Health and Environment Committees August 23, 2016

The Ordinance Committee and the Health and Environment Committee conducted a joint public hearing on a zoning petition by the City Council to amend Article 22.000 by creating a new Section 22.80 Urban Agriculture, “to establish zoning regulations for the operation and establishment of Urban Agriculture activities and also to provide framework for the siting, upkeep, and any modification of Urban Agriculture activity that address public safety and minimizes impacts on residents in the City of Cambridge.”

Click Here for CDD's Presentation in Response to Council Petition

Planning Board Meeting August 23, 2016

The Planning Board of the City of Cambridge held a public hearing on Tuesday, August 23, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. in the Second Floor Meeting Room, 344 Broadway, Cambridge, Massachusetts on a zoning petition by the City Council to amend Article 22.000 of the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Cambridge by creating a new Section 22.80, Urban Agriculture, “to establish zoning regulations for the operation and establishment of Urban Agriculture activities and also to provide framework for the siting, upkeep, and any modification of Urban Agriculture activity that address public safety and minimizes impacts on residents in the City of Cambridge.”

Click Here to Read the Planning Board's Response to the City Council's Urban Agriculture Petition

June 1, 2016

The Public Health Department will be presenting the public health regulations for beekeeping and chicken keeping to the Cambridge Public Health Subcommittee for review. The public health regulations for hens and bees will be put into place to ensure the maintenance of sanitary operations, prevent the occurrence of nuisances (e.g., odor, noise) or other more serious conditions that may endanger the health and safety of Cambridge residents, prevent the attraction of predators and pests, and prevent the spread of vector-borne or other infectious diseases. The planned effective date for the three public health regulations will be timed to correspond with the enactment of a new zoning ordinance allowing urban agriculture practices in the City.

April 1, 2016

The Urban Ag Task Force held a chicken keeping focus group with representatives from Community Development, Inspectional Services, Public Health, Animal Control, local chicken keepers, and chicken keeping advocates and resident-experts to understand best practices and ideas to mitigate nuisance concerns.

March 11, 2016

CDD and Public Health Department staff represented the City at the 2nd Annual Municipal Planners Urban Agriculture Community Planning Workshop which focused on lessons, policies, and opportunities at the municipal level to support commercial agriculture and community food production. The workshop focused on the subject of reducing barriers for urban agriculture in cities and towns and best practices to begin the planning process.

December 14, 2015

The Urban Agriculture Task Force held a beekeeping stakeholder focus group session with representatives from the Public Health, Community Development, Inspectional Services Departments, and advocates and experts in beekeeping. Best management practices were reviewed and resulted in a set of recommendations and further areas requiring outreach and research.

October 2015

The Task Force is currently conducting public outreach at neighborhood organizations and plans to host a larger public forum in the winter to confirm the direction of public interest. In addition, the Task Force is convening focus groups through the winter with content experts to receive input on select topics.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

3:00 P. M. to 5:00 P. M. in Sullivan Chamber, City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Avenue

The Health and Environment Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss Urban Agriculture initiatives in the City of Cambridge and the creation of a regulatory environment that can foster the safe expansion of Urban Agriculture within City limits.

March 22 2017

Upcoming Meeting of Interest: Public Meeting
  • Wednesday, 7:00 P. M. to 9:00 P. M.
  • Citywide Senior Center, 806 Mass. Ave.

November 5 2015

Upcoming Meeting of Interest: Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association
  • Thursday, 7:00 P. M. to 9:00 P. M.
  • Lyndon B. Johnson Apartments, 150 Erie Street

October 15 2015

Upcoming Meeting of Interest: Porter Square Neighbors Association
  • Thursday, 7:00 P. M. to 9:00 P. M.
  • North Cambridge Senior Center, 2050 Massachusetts Avenue

October 14 2015

Upcoming Meeting of Interest: North Cambridge Stabilization Committee
  • Wednesday, 7:00 P. M. to 9:00 P. M.
    North Cambridge Senior Center, 2050 Massachusetts Avenue

October 1 2015

Upcoming Meeting of Interest: Fresh Pond Residents Alliance
  • Thursday, 7:00 P. M. to 9:00 P. M.
  • John M. Tobin School, 197 Vassal Lane

September 18 2015

Park(ing) Day
  • Join the Food and Fitness Policy Council in Cambridge's celebration of Park(ing) Day! The City has teamed up with Green City Growers and Yardbirds Backyard Chickens and multiple other community organizations to highlight the community efforts involving food systems planning including production, education, food security and access, food waste, and urban agriculture. Live chickens and gardening galore!
  • Friday, 8:00A.M. to 5:00P.M. in the parking spot located directly in front of Cambridge City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Avenue

September 8 2015

Upcoming Meeting of Interest: Agassiz Baldwin Community
  • Tuesday, 7:30 P. M. to 9:00 P. M.
  • Maud Morgan Arts Center, 2D Studio, 20 Sacramento Street

The Urban Agriculture Task Force is a subcommittee of the Cambridge Food and Fitness Policy Council charged with catalyzing action around policies, systems, and practices that make smart food choices and fitness options available to more people in their daily lives, especially low-income and immigrant residents. The Council serves in an advisory capacity to city departments on matters related to food and fitness policy issues.

To learn more about the Food and Fitness Policy Council's policy and program initiatives click here.

Urban Agriculture Task Force Members

  • Lawrence Barriner II, Consultant, research and coordination 2014-2015, Community Member
  • Chris Basler, Project Planner, Economic Development, Community Development Department
  • Stuart Dash, Director, Community Planning, Community Development Department
  • Sandra Fairbank, Architect, Resident
  • Javier Gutierrez, Metro Boston Community Liaison, Mass in Motion
  • Jane Hirschi, Executive Director, CitySprouts
  • Jennifer Lawrence (past member), Sustainability Planner, Environmental & Transportation Planning, Community Development Department
  • Jennifer Wright Letourneau, Director, Cambridge Conservation Commission
  • Dawn B. Olcott, School & Community Nutritionist, Cambridge Public Health Department
  • Sasha Purpura (past member), Executive Director, Food For Free
  • Kari Sasportas, Environmental Health Specialist, Cambridge Public Health Department
  • José Wendel, Manager, Nutrition Programs, Cambridge Public Health Department

For more information about the development of the urban agriculture ordinance or to be placed on an email list to receive periodic updates, contact:

Daniel Wolf, Neighborhood Planner, phone 617/349-4618 or email dwolf@cambridgema.gov