Governor Brown Signs the Neighborhood Food Act!

UPDATE: Click here to read our FAQ on the Neighborhood Food Act

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September 26, 2014

Today Governor Jerry Brown signed Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC)'s Neighborhood Food Act, AB 2561, and several other bills seeking to promote local and sustainable food systems in California.

AB 2561 guarantees tenants’ and members of homeowner’s associations’ rights to grow food for personal consumption by voiding contrary language in lease agreements or homeowner’s association agreements.

AB 2561 preempts landlords from restricting tenants who live in single-family or duplex residences from growing food for themselves in portable containers in their backyards. The bill allows landlords to determine the location of containers, restrict the use of synthetic chemicals, and enter into separate agreements with tenants regarding excess water use or waste collection. Common interest developments are also preempted from restricting members from growing food for personal consumption or donation.

Some 25 organizations supported the bill, including Sustainable Economies Law Center (sponsor), Slow Food California, Social Justice Learning Institute, and Ubuntu Green. Neil Thapar, Staff Attorney at the Sustainable Economies Law Center, said, “As Californians continue to face significant economic and environmental uncertainty, the Neighborhood Food Act is a great step forward towards equitable access to healthy food, developing resilient food systems, and strengthening local economies. People have the right to grow their own food, and this law clarifies that right.”

The bill as originally drafted by SELC, and as introduced in the State Legislature by Assemblymember Steven Bradford, also contained provisions that would overturn local zoning ordinances that prohibit growing food in front yards, back yards and vacant lots in residential neighborhoods and other city zones. This section of the bill was removed in the Assembly Local Government Committee due to opposition from the local government lobby. SELC hopes for future state legislation that addresses the widespread conflicts between city zoning codes and the urban agriculture movement in order to increase access to fresh, healthy and local food for many more Californians.

While there is much work ahead to remove legal barriers to small-scale, sustainable and local agriculture in California, we are pleased with the increasing interest among the State Legislature in addressing these critical issues. Today we are extremely grateful to the many farmers, gardeners, legislators and their staff, nonprofit organizations and community organizers who supported the Neighborhood Food Act.

Contact Information
Neil Thapar, Staff Attorney
Email: neil@theselc.org
Phone: (510) 398-6219
2323 Broadway, #203 Oakland, CA 94612

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By: Cat Johnson

September 8, 2014

In June, officials from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture alerted the Joseph T. Simpson Public Library in Mechanicsburg that their seed library was in violation of the Pennsylvania Seed Act of 2004. According to officials, the library would have to follow the prohibitively expensive procedures of large-scale commercial seed companies or only offer commercial seed. The first option is impractical and the second option would gut the exchange of its primary purpose to serve home gardeners who want to save and exchange their own seed. 

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Oakland Local

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Oakland's Alternative Incubators

Oakland Local

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By: Kris Maher

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Press Release - Neighborhood Food Act passes out of the CA Legislature

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New Bill Promotes Food Security and Access Through Urban Agriculture 

Sacramento, California – September 2, 2014 – On Wednesday, August 27, 2014, the California Legislature passed AB 2561, also known as the California Neighborhood Food Act. The Act guarantees tenants’ and members of homeowner’s associations’ rights to grow food for personal consumption by voiding contrary language in lease agreements or homeowner’s association agreements. Governor Jerry Brown must sign the bill in order for it to become law.

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planting-seeds.jpgAfter the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture cracked down on a seed bank in the Joseph T. Simpson Public Library in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, hundreds of seed libraries in the U.S. are suddenly wondering if they are breaking the law.

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Read the full article on Shareable

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