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What is Urban Agriculture?

Urban Agriculture can be broadly defined as growing food within the city. It can include growing food on vacant land, aquaponics, hoop houses, school gardens, community gardens, on rooftops, in backyards.  It also can include keeping bees.  The food grown may be for personal consumption or for commercial use.

UrbanAg increases access to healthy and fresh foods by increasing the amount of food produced locally. Access to healthy foods incr
eases through such things as an increase of farm stands in neighborhoods across our city and new small businesses producing and using locally grown produce.


Why is Urban Agriculture Good for Worcester?

Urban agriculture improves health, supports community development, and provides economic benefits. 

  • Buying local produce is good for the environment, as it cuts down on carbon emitted from large scale, industrial agriculture

  • Community members can experience physical, mental and emotional benefits from urban growing 

  • Growing and producing food provides even greater opportunities to consume a variety of fruits and vegetables, which supports health and well-being in our city

  • Urban Agriculture provides more culturally appropriate food for our multicultural city

  • When these enterprises are for commercial purposes it is bringing local jobs into our economy!

  • Communities also benefit from the greenery in their neighborhoods, especially when gardens or farms replace vacant lots or blighted areas.  The greenspaces help to clean our air and support improved rainwater absorption.

Worcester's Urban Agriculture Ordinance​


The zoning amendment defines what constitutes an urban farm, community garden and yard garden, identifies and categorizes where each of them are permitted or require special permits, and establishes rules and regulations designed to minimize potential impacts and maintain the safety of the neighborhood areas while encouraging healthy food growing practices.

  • How do I join a neighborhood garden?
    If you are primarily looking for a place to grow for yourself, fill out the REC Community Gardener Plot Interest Form. The REC does not own or directly manage member gardens; our staff can help connect you to the volunteer community garden coordinators at networks sites across the city. Please know that gardens in our network vary in size and structure; filling out this form does not guarantee you a plot. If a plot is not immediately available, your contact information will be added to a waitlist and you will be notified of any future plot openings. Priority for spring placement is given to those that complete this form by March 31st. Learn more about neighborhood gardens here!
  • Can I volunteer with the UGROW network?
    Yes! We post available community garden volunteer opportunites on our Volunteer page. If you want to see how you can help out at our School Gardens, email our School Gardens Coordinator at to express interest.
  • I'm looking for help with my backyard garden.
    While we support and encourage home growing, we are not currently able to provide material support for home gardens serving a single household. You can check out our Gardening Resource page for tips, tricks and helpful guides.

Seeing This Ordinance Come To Life

Many Worcester residents are already taking advantage of this ordinance to grow food, organize community and school gardens, and sell at farmers markets. The REC supports many existing growing projects across the city.

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