Urban Agriculture Laws


At Sustainable Economies Law Center (the Law Center), we want nothing more than to see the number of new urban agriculture projects and enterprises explode all across the country! To facilitate the growth of the urban agriculture movement, we offer this website as a collection of resources on laws and regulations that regulate who, how, and where urban agriculture can occur. As a collaborative effort, the content on UrbanAgLaw.org is created by a group of legal professionals and law students, and the site is curated by the Law Center.


Library Topics

This page provides information about federal and state agricultural, health, and safety regulations affecting commercial urban farm operations.

This page provides both general and city-specific information on zoning codes, urban agriculture policies, key terminology, and useful resources.

Information on the types of building permits that may be necessary when operating an urban agricultural project or enterprise. Legal requirements and issues that may arise in each category will be addressed.

Urban farmers sometimes face barriers when private homeowners associations (HOAs) block them from using residential properties to grow food for personal consumption or sale.

Enterprise-driven agriculture in urban settings offers communities the potential to develop strong local economies and create more resilient food systems.

Nonprofits participate in urban food growing in a variety of ways, as described below. At the same time, nonprofits’ abilities to take part in these activities is limited by rules governing tax exemption.

Handy Guides

Also, check out these handy guides we’ve created for people interested in starting new worker-owned enterprises and food justice enterprises!


Think outside the Boss

How to Create a Worker-Owned

This manual has been prepared as a handout for a workshop on starting a worker-owned business.


El Proceso Legal Para Iniciar Tu Negocio Cooperativa

Una Guía para todos tipos de negocios

Hemos intentado recopilar información precisa


Legal Eats

Legal Resources for Food Justice Enterprises

This booklet has been prepared as a handout for “Legal Eats” workshop.


Selling Produce In Santa Clara County

A legal guide for small stores,urban farms and gardens

This guide was written by staff at the Sustainable Economies Law Center with funding provided by The Health Trust.

Our Blog

UrbanAgLaw.org uses a collaborative approach to collect and disseminate important legal information, best practices, and supporting tools to support urban agriculture in the U.S.


Liability, Risk, and Insurance

Even if you are responsible and careful to take every precaution to ensure your practice is safe and your food isn’t going to make anyone sick, you should still be insured.

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Employment Laws

Employment Laws

Why is it important for urban farmers to understand employment law issues?

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Land Access

This page details the process of accessing public lands, the purposes of and best practices for land trusts, and the urban farming land inventories conducted in cities around the country.

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Animals and Livestock

This page provides general information about keeping food-producing animals (FPAs) and guidelines to find regulations specific to your city.

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Information about soil contaminant testing for urban gardens, examples of testing and remediation techniques, and additional resources.

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Obtaining Water for Urban Agriculture

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