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The Boston Globe

Ideas

If urban farming took off, what would Boston look like?

A new ordinance makes it legal, even easy, to start a farm in the city. Here’s what the future could hold.

On Dec. 18, the Boston Zoning Commission did something that promises to give the city back a piece of its past while potentially catapulting it into a strange new future: It approved a new rule making it legal to start a commercial farm inside city limits.

Until the turn of the 20th century, it wasn’t all that unusual for Bostonians to earn their living through farming, and as late as 1895, the city was producing more crops and livestock products than any Massachusetts town except Dartmouth. This changed as the city modernized and grew denser, driving real estate prices up and eventually, in 1965, leading to the passage of a citywide zoning code that introduced all kinds of bureaucratic obstacles to starting a farm anywhere in Boston.

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