Is urban farming a good idea?

(WJLA) - Tighe Barry recently starting planting his garden, and has encouraged his neighbors in Northeast D.C. to do the same.

Barry loves the idea that a nearby vacant lot can be turned into an urban farm:

"If you can take care of your land like that, you'd want to be able to walk down to the end of your block, farm a little piece of property..."

Now, two D.C. council members are pushing for lots like this one in Northeast to be turned into neighborhood farms. Barry thinks the move would empower people:

"It's community involvement. It's people getting together and deciding the future of their community."

The bill is still in its very early stages, but it is designed to give people incentives to use city-owned lots and use them for urban agriculture so that food can be produced and residents can connect with the earth. Some of the bill’s incentives could even include tax credits for those who donate the food.

However, while the idea sounds easy enough, some council members here at City Hall have already run into a couple of challenges:

Mary Cheh, one of the sponsors of the bill, says they are thinking about the size of the lots and whether soil should be tested for toxic materials, as well as how to deal with rodents such as rats:

"There are ways to deal with these problems. I mean there is urban farming going on all around the United States, and so it isn't as if we're going to reinvent the wheel here."

Cheh expects that the bill will change before it goes through the committee on transportation and environment, but feels confident that the bill will ultimately gain the committee’s approval.

"Growing your own food and then eating your own food gives you a degree of confidence and self-sufficiency about things that I think is irreplaceable."