Health Lens Analysis of Urban Agriculture Policy in Cambridge

Hurley street urban farm


Promoting Smart Growth & Regional Planning


Health Lens Analysis of Urban Agriculture Policy

Cambridge, MA

Urban agriculture has increasingly been recognized for its potential to improve public health in variety of ways –in addition to increasing cultivation of healthy foods, it can strengthen the social fabric of a community,encourage physical activity and mental health, and deliver ecological benefits. Emergent technologies also show promise for hydroponic and vertical food-growing businesses.

The City of Cambridge has a legacy of promoting public health through initiatives and partnerships that increase healthy food access. And, the City and region contain several non-profit, school-based, and for-profit urban agriculture-related entities and programs. Responding to the interest in urban agriculture and recognizing the benefits it can deliver, in recent years, Cambridge has focused efforts on developing a policy and strategies to promote and allow more urban agriculture activities in the City. In 2017, Cambridge successfully passed public health regulations and a zoning ordinance for beekeeping, and it is actively developing policies and guidance for farming, henkeeping, and the sale of agriculture products.

Concurrent with the policy and guidance development, the Cambridge Public Health Department partnered with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council to conduct a Health Lens Analysis (HLA) with the objective of taking a closer look at the urban agriculture policy’s potential implications for public health. The HLA investigates potential health impacts of urban agriculture as they relate to four determinants of health: social, economic, nutritional, and environmental factors.It makes recommendations for ensuring the urban agriculture policy is implemented in such a way that promotes health, mitigates negative health impacts and promotes equitable engagement in urban agriculture.