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Livingstone, city discuss details of proposed urban farm

SALISBURY — Livingstone College and the city came to a better understanding of what an urban farm in the middle of Salisbury would look, and smell, like.
Joe Fowler, a consultant for Livingstone, and Vivian Ray, the college’s director of hospitality and culinary arts, met with members of a Salisbury Planning Board committee Tuesday. The college wants the city to allow agriculture in areas zoned institutional campus so it can resurrect an urban farm that was active in the 1950s and ’60s.
Because the change would have an impact on IC zoning throughout the city, not just Livingstone’s 45 acres on Locke Street near Brenner Avenue and Milford Hills Road, Preston Mitchell, the city’s Planning and Development Services manager, recommended a committee study the request.
The 5-acre farm largely would include vegetation, but some animals would live and possibly die on the farm, Fowler said. Students would study agriculture and biology at the farm, which the college hopes will supply food for the culinary arts program and possibly the cafeteria as well.
The college would like to construct a building at the corner of Brenner Avenue and Milford Hills Road that would be part of the farm, Fowler said. While the purpose of the farm would be educational, not economic development, Fowler said college officials have talked about possibly trademarking and selling a product grown at the farm such as jarred garlic.
The city could limit the size of components on the farm to be more residential in scale, since the project will not try to generate revenue, Planning Board member Bill Burgin said.
The farm could sell excess produce wholesale after supplying the culinary arts program, Fowler said. While the farm will host some animals, Fowler said they will be used for education, not profit.
“I can’t ever foresee a time that we want to sell meat,” he said.
The college has no interest in meat production, which would require a slaughterhouse and additional regulation, Fowler said. The farm likely will have chickens, goats and rabbits, and students may need to slaughter an individual animal, he said.
Thomasina Paige, committee chairwoman, asked what kind of protection the college would provide for neighbors. Fowler said an animal would be slaughtered indoors and no closer than 100 feet from an adjoining property line.
Burgin asked how the farm would handle animal waste, and Fowler said plans are in place to turn waste into compost.
While much of the discussion centered on animals, Ray emphasized that the farm would be focused on plants.
“The production and slaughter of meat is not the objective,” she said. “… Everything we do will be geared toward educational.”
Mitchell said the meeting was productive and he has a better understanding of the college’s request so he can draft a text amendment for the Planning Board’s consideration. The board will make a recommendation to City Council.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

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