|TO: ||Sustainability Resiliency Committee Meeting|
|FROM:||Jimmy L. Morales, City Manager|
|DATE: ||July 11, 2018|
|SUBJECT:||DISCUSS A TEMPORARY HYDROPONIC FARM AS AN INCUBATION PILOT IN NORTH BEACH.|
Michelle Huttenhoff, Tourism, Culture and Economic Development
Item C4 AE - May 16, 2018 Commission Meeting
Commissioner John Elizabeth Aleman
At the May 16, 2018 City Commission meeting this item was referred to the Sustainability and Resiliency Committee to further explore hydroponic farms as a potential pilot project in North Beach, and will be discussed at the July 11, 2018 meeting of the Committee.
Indoor farming is a method of growing crops or plants, usually on a large scale, entirely indoors. This method of farming often implements growing methods such as hydroponics and utilizes a mechanical system to provide plants with nutrients and light levels required for growth. A wide variety of plants can be grown indoors. However, fruits, vegetables, and herbs are often the most popular because they grow well indoors and can generate revenue.
One of the advantages of indoor farming is the control of necessary conditions to achieve optimal survival, growth, and maturation of any given crop, thereby ensuring maximum yield per square foot of growing space. The control of necessary conditions can demand a higher carbon footprint compared to outdoor farming, because of the amount of energy needed to operate the artificial system for indoor farming (lighting,heating/cooling, ventilation, air conditioning, nutrition, irrigation, software, and sensors for that particular growing environment). Nevertheless, indoor farming uses land and water more efficiently than conventional farming and could become a strategy for sustainable feeding the world’s growing population, as long as its high energy demand can be met through efficiency measures and/or the use of cost-effective renewables. In addition, as more sophisticated control devices become available, the cost of maintaining the controlled environment may decrease. A full presentation outlining the concept of indoor farming is attached herein as Exhibit A.
Vacant buildings and unused spaces are being transformed into indoor farms using hydroponic, aquaponic, apiary and aeroponic systems, as well as space-saving strategies of “vertical farming” to grow fresh food, which is often in short supply in urban areas. Additionally, hydroponic and vertical farms can be produced in temporary, moveable equipment such as shipping containers.
The attached presentation provides a high level overview on indoor farming and provides examples of its economic and social impact within cities.
The North Beach neighborhood provides an opportunity to test this new model of farming. This area currently has eight vacant government owned surface lots (West Lots) across the North Shore Oceanside Park that could offer as a test site. The City could adapt the shipping container model on one or more of these vacant lots. Concurrent to this memo, the City has been working with Dover, Kohl & Partners to examine the future use of the North Beach West Lots. Through community charrettes and meetings, residents have expressed interest and a need for having a community or hydroponic garden to increase their access to healthy food. At the June 27, 2018 Commission meeting, Dover Kohl presented initial conceptual design plans for the West Lots, and a hydroponic farm was recommended as part of the development of the lots. The recommended placement was on Lot 4, because that lot is being conceptualized as an active, open greenspace area. Commission direction was to include the proposed Dover Kohl conceptual plans in the GO Bond list currently under review by the GO Bond Committee for possible inclusion on the November ballot.
Any project related to indoor farming would require a zoning review. The City of Miami Beach land development regulations do not contain regulations for farming or agriculture uses. Further analysis would be necessary to determine if a hydroponic farm is an allowable use under currently zoning laws, or if code amendments would be necessary. However, for government-owned (GU zoned) properties, the City Commission has the ability to approve waivers of the Land Development Regulations under certain circumstances, which may be an alternative if the use is not one that is typically allowed. Any such projects would also require a building permit, as well as compliance with Florida Building Code requirements related to indoor system controls, such as lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation, and irrigation, among other requirements.
Administration seeks further direction regarding the discussion of creating a hydroponic pilot project within North Beach.