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The Legal Side of Urban Farming

Stephen Henderson talks with Nick Leonard, Equal Justice Works Fellow at the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center, about the laws that govern urban farming and the upcoming Detroit Food Entrepreneur Legal Workshop on July 30th

  • Basic legal background: Leonard says that many people just do not know what rules apply to urban farming, but ignorance is no defense in the eyes of the law.  He says people need proper approvals to know how to organize as nonprofits or low liability companies and to be familiar with zoning ordinances. 
  • Neighborhood outreach:  Leonard says that neighborhood outreach is very important.  He says people are often wary of outsiders in Detroit and many people have negative associations with agriculture, so farms should be open about what they are doing and why. 
  • Fitting farms into law: Although Detroit has created ordinances regulating urban agriculture, Leonard says that many farms are in a unique situation because urban farming culture existed before the regulations. He says they now have to try to fit into the regulations in order to operate or purchase properties. 
  • Workshop itinerary:  Stephen asks what people can expect from the workshop on July 30th.  Leonard says it will cover all areas of the law that could affect an urban farm, including how to set up a non-profit or LLC, how to create an enforceable contract, how to acquire property, and about hiring laws.  He says that it will also cover more specific topics, like intellectual property and food law. 
  • How to Attend:  The Detroit Food Entrepreneur Legal Workshop will be at the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights from 6-9pm on Thursday, July 30th.  Parking is free and there will be complimentary food.  Click here for the event page.  

Click the audio link above to hear the full conversation.  

Image credit: Linda N.

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