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Urban farming: Salt Lake County wants Utahns' help in turning idle land into productive gardens

SALT LAKE CITY (Deseret News) — Everywhere Dallas Hanks looks, he sees wasted land.

Vacant lots growing weeds behind buildings.

Pockets of scruffy growth amid freeway junctions.

Muddy areas bordering county canals.

All of it being wasted.

"Together, these areas are huge resources that can be utilized," said Hanks, a Utah State University doctorate student. "We just haven't thought about it."

Hanks could use some of that land to make biodiesel to run part of the county's fleet of vehicles.

Claire Uno, executive director of Wasatch Community Gardens, sees uses for the land, too. A 4-by-40-foot plot can feed a family of four for at least a year, she'll tell you. And the problem isn't interest; it's availability. The waiting time for even a small plot in one of her organization's community gardens is sometimes six years.

Salt Lake County Councilman Jim Bradley also sees the wasted land, and he wants to let people use it.

As Bradley's urban farming initiative takes shape in the next few months, the measure will bring people like Uno, Hanks and other residents with agricultural interests to plots of land where their plans can take root.

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