Friday, September 29, 2023

Montgomery County legalizes tunnel greenhouses on urban, suburban lots to boost small farming production

Montgomery County's Department of Permitting Services has removed a prohibition on the erection of high tunnel greenhouses on urban and suburban lots, in an effort to increase food production by small farmers in those areas. Previously, the structures were only permitted on land zoned as agricultural. Constructed of metal frames and clear plastic coverings, the greenhouses trap heat to extend the growing season, and block access to plants by pests. Interested applicants in urban and suburban areas must submit to the DPS a certificate showing that the high tunnel proposal has been reviewed by the Montgomery Soil Conservation District and the Office of Agriculture, to ensure that it will comply with sediment and erosion control, stormwater management, zoning, and any local HOA requirements. 

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich

"Ag growers who are Black, indigenous or people of color often operate on properties with fewer than three acres of land, so this policy change was made to increase racial equity," County Executive Marc Elrich said in a statement. "This policy change also is expected to increase local food production, which helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions from long-distance food transport on our roads and increase urban access to healthy and nutritious food. I thank the local grower who advocated for change and the Office of Agriculture and Department of Permitting Services for implementing the new policy."

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