Unpermitted Urban Agriculture: Transgressive Actions, Changing Norms, and the Local Food Movement

28 Pages Posted: 26 Mar 2014 Last revised: 5 Jun 2014

See all articles by Sarah Schindler

Sarah Schindler

University of Maine - School of Law

Date Written: April 22, 2014


It is becoming more common in many urban and suburban areas to see chickens in backyards, vegetable gardens growing on vacant, forclosed-upon, bank-owned property, and pop-up restaurants operating out of retail or industrial spaces. The common thread tying all of these actions together is that they are unauthorized; they are being undertaken in violation of existing laws, and often norms. In this essay, I explore ideas surrounding the overlap between food policy and land use law, and specifically the transgressive actions that people living in urban and suburban communities are undertaking in order to further their local food-related goals. I assert that while governmental and societal acceptance and normalization of currently illegal local food actions is likely needed for the broader goals of the local food movement to succeed, there are some limited benefits to the currently unauthorized nature of these activities. These include transgression serving as a catalyst for change and as an enticement to participate.

Keywords: land use, food policy, local food, backyard chickens, transgression, zoning, local government, urban, agriculture, locavore, illegal, norms, pop-up restaurant, secret supper

JEL Classification: I12, I18, K11, K32, L66, N50, O13, O18, P32, Q1, Q18, Q15, R14, R52

Suggested Citation

Schindler, Sarah, Unpermitted Urban Agriculture: Transgressive Actions, Changing Norms, and the Local Food Movement (April 22, 2014). Wisconsin Law Review, Vol. 2014, No. 2, pp. 369-396 (2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2414016

Sarah Schindler (Contact Author)

University of Maine - School of Law ( email )

246 Deering Avenue
Portland, ME 04102
United States
207-780-4409 (Phone)

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics