Urban farms, JP Loop discussed at forum

HYDE SQ.—Urban agriculture and the defunct Route 48 “JP Loop” bus were two of the many themes touched upon during the third annual State of Our Neighborhood forum on Feb. 26.

More than 200 people attended the forum at the Kennedy Elementary School. The Jamaica Plain Forum, the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation and the Jamaica Plain New Economy Transition hosted the event, where several local elected officials spoke, including state Reps. Liz Malia and Jeffrey Sánchez and City Councilors Matt O’Malley and Felix Arroyo.

Arroyo and O’Malley agreed to file an order for a hearing on urban agriculture, which was introduced to the forum by attendee Dan Bensonoff. The ideas discussed at the forum included rooftop gardening, using vacant lands as gardens, a citywide composting program and raising chickens.

Raising chickens has been an ongoing issue locally. Some residents keep backyard chickens despite the fact that the City currently outlaws the practice. O’Malley said tending chickens should be something the City encourages instead of blocks. He also said a citywide composting program would be “easy” and “good for the environment.”

Leila Quinn, a JP resident who moved here from New York City two months ago, said she was glad that urban agriculture was raised as she thinks it is an important issue and would like to have a career in it. She said she came to the forum because she wants to become involved with the JP community.

Malia said during the forum she continues to work at getting the Route 48 “JP Loop” bus back into operation. The MBTA killed the Route 48 bus, which served the 125 Amory Street residence for seniors and people with disabilities, last summer due to budget woes.

Malia said, “We need to all work together to raise the revenue” to fix the MBTA major funding problems. She said if the Route 48 bus is not reinstated, she would like to see a van made available for seniors along the route.

The Gazette co-sponsored the forum.

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