Recommendations for Urban Agriculture Moving Forward

UrbanAgChangesDocUpdate: Urban Agriculture definitions were adopted into the City of Knoxville’s Zoning Ordinance on July 21, 2015 by the Knoxville City Council.

In July of 2014, the City of Knoxville’s Office of Sustainability began a public participation process to clearly define and allow common urban agriculture practices within areas of Knoxville (see: City Seeks Input on Zoning Changes for Urban Gardens). In April of 2015, the Office of Sustainability unveiled a document detailing the proposed changes to enhance Knoxville’s urban food system. This document is available on their website at: Urban Agriculture Initiative – Zoning Ordinance Proposal [PDF] 

The document outlines three phases. The first phase involves changes to the zoning ordinance to accommodate increasing interest in urban agriculture activities within the City of Knoxville. Over the last year, a proposal to amend the City of Knoxville Zoning Ordinance was drafted and it will come before the Knoxville-Knox County Metropolitan Planning Commission for recommendation on May 14th, 2015, and then it will move to Knoxville City Council for adoption. The proposed ordinance is also available on the City’s website at: Urban Agriculture Initiative – Zoning Amendments [PDF]  The Knoxville-Knox County Food Policy Council has written a letter in support of the proposed urban agriculture amendments to the City’s zoning ordinance (To view this letter visit: Letter of Support – Food Policy Council – Urban Agriculture Zoning)

Since just allowing residents more opportunities to grow food in the City won’t address all the challenges related to healthy, affordable food access, the second phase of the project will look at distribution issues within the local/regional food market. Barriers to getting local and regional food into grocery stores, restaurants, schools, hospitals and other institutions have been commonly noted in community conversations regarding the local food system. The second phase hopes to address these barriers to local/regional food market distribution efforts, as well as investigating the standards that would need to be developed to allow for some small-scale urban agriculture livestock practices, such as hens, goats and ducks. Phase 3 of the project will look at transforming city-owned vacant and blighted properties into spaces available for gardens and neighborhood assets.

If you have questions and/or would like clarification on any of the City’s proposals, please contact Brian Blackmon with the City of Knoxville’s Office of Sustainability at: or 865-215-2065

If you are interested in the upcoming zoning ordinance amendments and would like to attend the MPC hearing and/or email MPC Commissioners, please do so at: and/or attend the meeting on Thursday, May 14th, 2015, at 1:30pm in the Main Assembly Room of the City-County Building at 400 W. Main Street, Knoxville, TN 37902