KC Urban Farm Aims to Save the Planet. Neighbors Call it a Nuisance, City Cracks Down

by David Hudnall. Courtesy of Yahoo News.

Urbavore is now the largest urban farm in Kansas City.

They grow all kinds of crops at Urbavore. Blueberries, strawberries, tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, garlic, green onions. There are pear trees and apple trees. There is an insectary garden filled with native plants and wildflowers. They have hundreds of chickens and 17 pigs, which they rotate around the grounds every few weeks in a pasture-based system that better preserves the soil beneath them.

Urbavore had long sold their food at local farmers markets. But during COVID-19, they started posting their offerings online. Now, instead of hauling all those fruits and veggies to a market every week, approximately 100 customers come to them, picking up orders at the farm entrance on Thursdays between 4 and 7 p.m.

They also purchased Compost Collective KC during the pandemic, in 2021, increasing the traffic along 55th Terrace at Urbavore’s south entrance.

These two new developments are part of what has drawn the ire of the neighbors.

A visit from a City Planning and Development inspector last month yielded four violations for Urbavore.

Urbavore has appealed all four violations with the Board of Zoning Appeals. But it is the last violation, about their composting operation, that has [Urbavore] particularly concerned.

Ami Freeberg with Cultivate KC said the city’s recent targeting of a self-sustaining organic farm like Urbavore seems at odds with the Kansas City Regional Climate Action Plan, which the City Council passed last year.

“Two key aspects of that plan are food waste reduction and producing more food locally, both of which Urbavore is doing a great job of,” Freeberg said. “So for the city to be saying these are important values and then at the same time undermining the work being done in the community that supports that, it doesn’t really make sense.”

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