City Council Discusses Urban Farming and Beekeeping Ordinances

The City Council discussed urban farming and beekeeping ordinances at a May 24 public hearing.

Dimple Rana, director of community engagement for the City of Revere, opened the forum by elaborating on the goals of Revere on the Move, stating that

the agency “aims to ensure that everyone in Revere has access to healthy foods.”

“Over the past ten years, Revere on the Move has developed resident-leadership capacity and resident-led programming to guide the development of the urban farming ordinance,” Rana told the Council.

 “The urban faming ordinance was created to increase access to fresh, locally grown wholesome foods for and by residents of Revere.”

Rana said an urban farming ordinance would encourage home gardeners, commercial businesses, and non-profits to grow their own food. She also noted that the Revere Farmer’s Market will begin its seventh season in July and that a beehive pilot program in which Revere will begin to produce, market and sell honey, generating revenue for the city.

“Revere residents have long asked for additional community gardens, urban farms, chickens, bees, and more,” said Rana. “I support this ordinance and moving it forward.”

Damian DeMarco, a lifelong Revere resident and Revere schoolteacher for 20 years, spoke in support of the urban farming initiative. “Five years ago I attended bee school with the Boston Area Beekeepers Association and I became a beekeeper,” related DeMarco. “For the last three years, I’ve been managing the beehives in the Point of Pines as the beekeeper for the garden.”

DeMarco,

who is studying at Cornell to become a master beekeeper, said he is an advocate for organic urban beekeeping and maintaining backyard hives. “I do support the city effort to bring bees to their urban farming initiative.”

Viviana Catano, program manager at Revere Cares, said she also supports the initiative.

“I am here to speak as a proponent of the urban farming ordinance and I am very excited that the city has put forward this ordinance that will allow more people to have access to fresh, healthier foods,” Catano told the Council.

Amanda Gibson, a resident of Broadsound Avenue, said she and her husband are “proponents of the Revere urban farming ordinance.”

“The ordinance promotes healthy communities, increases access to healthy food and education regarding healthy eating as well as exercise, and helps understand where our food comes from and we can connect with people in our community,” said Gibson.

“It reduces our carbon footprint by reducing transportation and production costs,” she continued. “It increases the strength of our local economy with more dollars staying local and contributing to the betterment of Revere’s economy, and increasing local workforce and opportunities.”

Gibson cited the immediate success of the newly opened community garden in Beachmont.

“You can already see the garden drawing happy people who are coming together and connecting in a safe way after a really tough year of COVID-19. The community garden is boosting spirits and brings hopes for a bright future. Please consider joining us in support of this important cause,” said Gibson.

Councillor-at-Large Jessica Giannino said, “I’m so excited that this is finally coming before the City Council. This is something that we have been talking about for quite a long time, and quite frankly it’s our history. Revere started as a farming community. There was Roland’s Greenhouses and my family’s [Giannino’s] Greenhouse and that’s really where our roots are. And I think that since the city has become more urban and more developed, we’ve lost a lot of our history and we’ve lost a lot of the that culture of growing your own food and knowing where your food comes from. I think this is phenomenal ordinance and it should have been done a while ago.”

Stating that the ordinance was “a little bit overdue,” Ward 4 Councillor Patrick Keefe, culinary director at Legal Sea Foods, expressed his full support. “Putting an emphasis on healthy community and healthy lifestyles really should be a model for the City of Revere,” said Keefe.

Councillor-at-Large George Rotondo, who proposed the original ordinance on urban farming, said there are “multiple city sites that we can utilize to create more farming for our community.”

City Councillors Joanne McKenna, Steven Morabito, and Richard Serino also expressed support of enacting the ordinance.

Mary Gandolfo of Washington Avenue, said she would like to see urban farming “done only on a small scale.” “I wouldn’t want a big farm or a chicken coop next to me,” she said. “I think it should be for families, not for commercial sales. I also don’t want to see marijuana grown.”

City Council President Anthony Zambuto directed the matter to the Zoning Sub-committee for further discussion.

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