When farming in urban environments, whether in-ground or using innovative production, one of the biggest challenges can be navigating local statutes, zoning, permitting, and land use regulations. For growers, understanding legal access to land and water, as well as local policies, is critical.

In response to this obstacle, USDA's Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production (OUAIP) is partnering with the Vermont Law and Graduate School Center for Agriculture and Food Systems to develop resources that help growers understand and work through local policies.

"We are thrilled to announce this partnership," said Brian Guse, OUAIP Director. "It will provide valuable information to producers and policymakers who work within these complex landscapes."

The five-year agreement will result in a guidebook of urban agriculture and innovative production policies, and state and municipal best practices for navigating local policies. These resources will help producers understand policies that may impact them, provide policymakers with examples of urban agriculture and innovative production policies they can use in their own jurisdictions, and inform USDA staff and partners of potential barriers urban growers face and how best to guide them.

"Our students, staff, and faculty are really excited about this partnership to create new resources that can make a real difference for producers and policymakers and help build stronger local and regional food systems," said Laurie Beyranevand, Director of the Vermont Law and Graduate School Center for Agriculture and Food Systems.

The Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production's mission is to support urban, small-scale, and innovative producers through a variety of programs, initiatives, and collaborations. OUAIP is responsible for funding opportunities, the Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production Advisory Committee, People's Garden Initiative and coordinates across USDA agencies to update programs and engage with stakeholders to determine and adapt to the needs of producers.

Vermont Law and Graduate School's Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS) uses law and policy to build a more sustainable and just food system. CAFS works closely with its partners to provide legal services that respond to their needs and develop resources that empower the communities they serve. Through its Food and Agriculture Clinic, Summer Honors Intern program, and Research Assistant program, students work on projects alongside partners nationwide, engaging in innovative work that spans the food system.