Vance County has joined the ranks of many cities across the United States to begin reviewing local land use permit codes to include urban agriculture and allow locally grown, year round production of fresh foods within city limits. On November 3, 2015, the Henderson Zoning Board unanimously granted a Special Use Permit to two of our city homeowners that will be transitioning into Organic production of vegetables.
Local governments throughout the US and NC in cities such as Seattle, Baltimore, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Boston, Asheville, Boulder, Austin, Salisbury, Portland, and Greensboro have already implemented special-use permits to allow installation of non-permanent structures such as greenhouses or high tunnels. This opens up a great opportunity to revitalize vacant inner city lots vandalized for years or just allowed to grow up or be trash dumps. It also provides opportunities for communities to partner with local agencies or community groups and implement educational projects for residents to be a part of. Neighborhood kids, young adults and retirees can now be a part of growing vegetables from seed to harvest and bringing dying communities back to life.
High tunnels provide a great opportunity to grow Fall/Winter/Spring/Summer produce, herbs, berries and greens in a protected environment and avoid extreme environmental conditions that can cause expensive crop failures. Produce such as tomatoes, sweet peppers, cucumbers, melons, summer squash, eggplants, ginger, garlic, collards etc. grown in high tunnels, can be in turn sold to local restaurants, day care centers, and schools providing healthy and delicious locally grown veggies right here in Henderson, NC!!
By Diana Lewis, Natural Resource Conservation Service