EDINBURG, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The city of Edinburg aims to help local farmers by updating the city’s code.

Shakera Raygoza, owner and operator of Terra Preta Farms in Edinburg, stood under farming structures called high tunnels. However, two years ago Raygoza and her husband had to petition the city to have them built.

“We had to petition to get a variance because according to the code they weren’t allowed, but that brought a highlight to the issues that are there,” she said.

Structures like high tunnels significantly help farmers, however, they are not easy to build through Edinburg’s current city code, according to Raygoza.

“These structures are very important for farmers especially here in the Valley they provide protection from high winds, extreme cold, heat and it can extend the season,” said Raygoza.

During the pandemic, she said the community turned to local farms as a source of food in the face of a supply chain crisis. She added this showed the importance of having support for the local farming community.

“We need local ranchers, local farmers, processing facilities, all of these structures and buildings to facilitate a strong local food system,” said Raygoza.

Now, Raygoza and others are partnering with the city to help update its code, and the city’s assistant manager, Jesus “Jay” Saenz, said they encourage the public’s input.

“Thanks to our council and city manager providing us funding, and through that process we had some urban farmers contact us very concerned saying they don’t want Edinburg to become a food desert,” said Saenz. “Last year around March or July and they’ve been integral in incorporating urban farming into our code.”

Raygoza added she encourages the public to submit any concerns they have with the city while they can.

“It would allow for other farmers to place these without variance and also allow them to grow and sell from their homes,” said Raygoza.