Understanding how local food systems function and how people can get involved has become a hot topic within many communities. This page is designed to provide you with different resources for accessing and growing fresh food within the community, to help you learn and find resources about regulations for growing and distributing your own food, and to provide individuals who are experiencing food insecurity to find the resources they need. This page also has resources for establishing native lawns and pollinator gardens to boost habitats for the creatures who help pollinate the plants and food we eat.
GROWING FOOD AND COMPOSTING
I want to start growing food in my backyard garden. Do I need to do anything special?
Growing a backyard garden is a great way to make sure you have access to fresh and healthy food! However, you should contact Gopher One at 811 before you start digging your garden to locate any underground utilities.
If you need some helpful tips getting started, check out this yard and gardening resource by the U of M Extension or this article by Better Homes and Gardens.
Can I start a backyard compost to recycle vegetable and fruit waste for my garden?
Yes, composting is a great way to get nutrients back into the soil and a great way to recycle food waste.
- Composting containers must be enclosed and located in the rear yard
- Cannot exceed two hundred fifty (250) cubic feet
- Cannot be taller than four (4) feet
- Container must be made of durable materials, such as wood, plastic, fiberglass or metal fencing material.
- Container must be located twenty (20) feet from residential buildings
- Container must be located twenty (20) feet from the street on a corner lot
- Compost must be periodically mixed to promote efficient biological deterioration.
- Must not create a nuisance to neighboring properties
What can I put in the compost container?
Compost bins are a mix of brown and green materials and water. Brown materials are items that are rich in carbon such as leaves and twigs and green materials are items rich in nitrogen such as lawn clippings and vegetable scraps. Other compostable items you can put in your compost bin include: Yard waste, fruit and vegetable scraps, garden waste, eggshells, coffee grounds, soil, fertilizer, flowers, or small shrub trimmings or twigs (1/4 inch diameter maximum) generated from the site on which the compost site is located.
Are there items I cannot put in the compost container?
There are certain items that should never go in a compost container. These items can attract pests, cause odors, or may contain elements that are harmful to people and plants and include: Meat, bones, grease, whole eggs, dairy products, diseased plants, charcoal ash, and human or pet feces.
Check out these composting tips from River Keepers or consider taking a class to learn how to compost. You can also check out these composting resources from the Environmental Protection Agency and US Department or Agriculture for more information about composting.
I want to garden, but I live in an apartment or my yard is too small for the size of garden I want. Is there anywhere in the community I can garden?
Yes, you can find many community gardens within the F-M Area. Please contact the garden of your choice or check out Cass Clay Food Partners 'Let's Eat Local' page for more information about our local community gardens.
I want to build a greenhouse so I can garden year-round. Is that allowed?
Yes, greenhouses are permitted in all residential districts. If you are interested in building a permanent greenhouse, you will need to check your zoning to verify requirements. Buildings over 200 sq. ft. require a building permit and all structures must meet building code requirements. Please contact Community Development for more information.
Can I construct a temporary structure to extend the growing season?
Yes, backyard season extenders, also called hoop houses, are similar to greenhouses, except they are temporary in nature and are typically constructed of plastic or similar temporary materials. If the building will be up for less than 6 months it does not require a building permit. These structures still need to meet zoning and building code setbacks. Please contact Community Development for more information.
BUYING LOCAL FOOD
Are there any local farmers markets and how do I find out more about them?
Yes! Moorhead is home to two farmers markets - the Moorhead Farmers Market and the Old Trail Market. Please contact the farmers markets for more information for dates.
There are also farmers markets in Fargo and West Fargo to visit. Check out Cass Clay Food Partners resources for more on local Farmers Markets from the 'Let's Eat Local' page.
Can I purchase food through community supported agriculture (CSA)?
Yes! Community supported agriculture is a crop sharing membership program that allows people to buy food directly from farmers. Members share the risk with the farmers by purchasing a share of the farms production before harvest and in return members receive regular food distributions. Check out Cass Clay Food Partners resources for more on local Farmers Markets from the 'Let's Eat Local' page. Foods available vary depending on the season and farmer.
I want to sell some of the food that I grow and make. Am I allowed to?
Yes, Minnesota Laws allow people to sell foods that are considered Cottage Foods. Cottage Foods are items that are baked, canned, pickled, and other low-risk foods (foods with a pH of 4.6 or lower) that are sold directly to consumers without a commercial kitchen. Cottage foods are typically sold at farmers markets.
If you are interested in getting started in selling your own food or would like more information, check out MN Cottage Food Laws from the MN Department of Agriculture.
I want to sell my home-grown food, but don’t want to sell at a farmers market. Can I sell it from my home?
Yes, however it may require a Home Occupational Permit. Please contact Planning and Zoning for more information.
What does it mean to be food secure or insecure?
Being food secure means that you are able to consistently access affordable and healthy food or do not need to worry where your next meal will come from. While being food insecure means you are unable to consistently access affordable healthy food and may be worried where your next meal will come from.
I’m experiencing food insecurity and need help finding a food pantry. Where can I go?
There are many places in the F-M Area where you can get help from food pantries. Here's a list of F-M Area Food Pantries.
I'm experiencing food insecurity and need a meal. Is there anywhere I can go?
Yes! There are places in the F-M area where you can get a meal from. Here's a list of F-M Area Soup Kitchens.
I grew a garden, but it’s way too much. Are there places I can donate my excess food?
Yes! Many local food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters will gladly take any excess food you have. Make sure to contact these places ahead of your donation to find out about any rules or drop off times these places may have.
CULTURAL FOOD OPPORTUNITIES
I'm an immigrant to the United States and am having a hard time finding foods that I have traditionally used. Is there anywhere I can buy foods that are part of my culture?
Yes! Fargo-Moorhead has lots of cultural grocery stores which will hopefully allow you to find foods that are part of your culture. Check out this list of F-M Area Cultural Grocery Stores.
What is a natural lawn?
Natural lawns are lawns consisting of plantings such as wild flowers, native or non-native grasses, forbes, ferns, and shrubs that exceeds 8 inches in height. A turf grass lawn left to grow unattended is not considered a natural lawn.
What are the requirements to convert my lawn into a natural lawn/pollinator garden?
- A Natural Lawn on private property, or a lawn consisting of plantings other than turf-grass or weeds (such has wildflowers, native or non-native grasses, forbes, ferns and shrubs) are permitted with the standards noted below.
- A Natural Lawn must be less than 24 inches in height when it is within 5 feet of a driveway/alley, within 30 feet of an intersection or within 3 feet of a fire hydrant.
- A Natural Lawn may not overhang on the sidewalk, curb, street or adjacent property.
- A Natural Lawn must be maintained as to not include noxious or invasive weeds or plants.
- A Natural Lawn may not be planted on a levee or other flood protection structure or within 20 feet of flood protection infrastructure.
- The City may order cutting of a Natural Lawn at any time when it is determined that the growth does not meet the standards outlined in the City Code.
- Property owners that plant a Natural Lawn are responsible for requesting utility location and ensuring that no plantings interfere with utilities. Utility providers may access and perform work on properties and any damage caused to Natural Lawn areas is the responsibility of the property owner.
Check out the MN Board of Water and Soil for their pollinator toolbox or the U of M Extension for more ideas or to learn about the benefits of native plants and landscaping.
I would like to plant something in the boulevard. Am I allowed?
Yes, boulevard plantings are allowed but they require a boulevard planting permit from the Engineering Department. Please also know that if the City or a utility company need to dig within the boulevard, the boulevard will only be restored to the condition it was in prior to any planting.
- Plantings may be up to 36 inches in height, however cannot be taller than 24 inches when within:
- 3 feet of a fire hydrant
- 5 feet from a driveway or alley
- 30 feet of an intersection
- Double-shredded hardwood mulch must be used around the plantings to prevent soil erosion.
- Mulch must be one (1) inch below the curb level.
- River rock or other similar materials are prohibited.
- Must be maintained as to not include noxious or invasive weeds or plants, removal/replacement of dead plants, and clear of debris.
- May not overhang on the sidewalk or right-of-way.
- Plants must be able to tolerate salt and snow storage.
- Must call Gopher One at 811 at least 48 hours before digging to locate utilities.