detox-vegetables.jpgSan Francisco Mayor Ed Lee signed into law today an ordinance that he said will expand urban agriculture in the city by loosening restrictions on local food and plant growers.

Lee joined several other city officials and community members at an urban garden in the midst of homes in the city’s Mission Terrace neighborhood today to sign the legislation, which was approved unanimously by the Board of Supervisors last week.

The ordinance changes the city’s planning code to allow for the sale and pickup of fresh food grown on-site in the city. Food and horticultural products that are grown for personal consumption remain unregulated.

The mayor signed the ordinance into law at a table with giant salad bowls on each side.

Lee said, “This is wonderful, precedence-setting” legislation that will increase production of locally grown produce and help make use of vacant land and create jobs.

“We’ve got to break open these empty lots” and “do more with our land,” he said.

The mayor was joined at today’s event by Supervisors David Chiu and Eric Mar, two of the co-sponsors of the legislation.

Chiu said the ordinance helps put San Francisco “on the cutting edge of the urban agriculture movement.”

The idea for the legislation took root when the owners of Little City Gardens, the three-quarter-acre urban farm on Cotter Street where today’s event was held, bought a lease for the property but discovered they were unable to sell the food they grew to restaurants or individual customers.

Caitlyn Galloway, a co-owner of the garden, said the amending of “an antiquated zoning code” will allow her garden and others in the city to continue “a simple, age-old act that our communities have only recently lost.”

Lee said the ban on local agriculture sales that this legislation lifted “was just a reflection of planning code years where maybe the culture was that store-bought foods were the only kinds of safe foods.”

He said, “It hadn’t penetrated our minds … that organic foods are just as safe and even more fresh.”

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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