Thursday, August 20, 2009

Calgary Independent Food Policy Cramp: Working out the cramps

Working out the cramps.

Camp this, Camp that. Are you getting a Camp Cramp?

This fall, for the first time in Calgary's history, all the stakeholder's will be represented at a meeting to discuss the future of CG: Community Gardening. Up until now, this very important aspect of our city has been in the hyper controlling hands of a clique of bureaucrats with a narrow vision... no longer. It is a "broad vision from broad minds" world now for Community Gardens... Working out the cramps, getting the circulation of NEW BLOOD (see new ideas) going, getting rid of the lactic acid (see dead wood)... Growing new ideas for a sustainable future.

Policy Changes to Support Urban Agriculture

Real Food For A Change

Policymaking takes place at many levels, including: the community, foundation board rooms, city councils, state legislatures, business networks, professional associations, and the federal government. Food policy councils are emerging in cities and states to coordinate policy initiatives, research, education, and events that build community food security, including through urban agriculture. In the following section, policymakers are invited to support these basic concerns of urban agriculture and translate them into concrete policy proposals. This outline can serve as a guide for policymakers who seek to offer cities – and especially their urban core – greater food security and the benefits of urban greening.

· Support infrastructure for increased urban food production, processing, and marketing

Þ Support significant community-based infrastructure for urban growers such as tool banks with food growing equipment and supplies, community kitchens and other shared processing facilities, farmers’ markets, community supported agriculture ventures, funding streams, technical service providers, and urban extension agents.

Þ encourage farm-to-institution approaches for direct marketing of local products that offer healthy food choices to schools (including Head Start), hospitals, prisons, and businesses, while creating economic opportunities for urban growers and related industries.

Þ Expand the WIC Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program and the Seniors Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program so that all states provide support for buying fresh produce at farmers’ markets

Þ Link training and welfare-to-work work programs for unemployed people to opportunities in urban food-related businesses as a source of living wage jobs.

· Extend to urban growers appropriate farm-related services and opportunities.

Þ Government, banks, land-grant universities, and private businesses need to tailor their offerings so that urban growers as well as rural farmers also have access to such benefits as start-up capital, credit, crop insurance, horticultural and financial advice, soil testing, markets, subsidies, tools, and inputs such as seeds and soil amendments.

Þ While the needs of urban farmers are in certain cases similar to those of rural farmers, in other cases they are different and require special services. Policymakers can work with representatives of community gardening and urban farming organizations, as well as food policy councils, to meet these needs (see above, V. Challenges Facing Urban Agriculture.)

· Support initiatives that convert idle and under-used urban lands and other resources for raising food, and preserve farms on the urban fringe.

Þ Encourage land tenure schemes such as land trusts, leases, eminent domain, and allied policy initiatives. Securing long-term commitment for community gardens, entrepreneurial farms, and other urban agriculture ventures is imperative to ensure the horticultural, social, and economic value of the endeavor.

Þ Incorporate urban agriculture in city land use plans as a desirable civic activity that improves the quality of urban life, food security, neighborhood safety and environmental stewardship. Zoning ordinances need to enable rather than prohibit the development of appropriate agriculture in residential, industrial, business, and open space zones.

Þ Amend building codes so that they reflect the actual structural contingencies of rooftop gardening.

Þ Convert some of the public lands in urban parks, and around municipal buildings, schools, public housing, hospitals, etc., to food production with plantings of fruit trees, edible landscaping, and vegetable gardens.

Þ Provide support and access to public waterways for raising fish in cities (aquaculture) as an inexpensive high-protein food.

Þ Enhance municipal support for composting solid waste with door-to-door collection of organic material, on-site composting facilities in urban agriculture projects, public education programs and advice,

· Promote and develop urban food growing training activities.

Þ Organize a web of training activities in a variety of settings, including schools, colleges, health care facilities, and continuing education programs in order to improve the knowledge of current growers and motivate potential new growers.

Þ Offer school-based programs that integrate nutrition and gardening in order to raise awareness about the connection between healthy food choices and locally-grown fresh produce.

Þ Two key concepts to promote are Primary Agriculture Education for all, and Secondary Food System Assessment, including mapping of the food system.

· Sponsor and publicize research on the horticultural, social, and economic factors that contribute to successful urban agriculture projects.

ÞFund research on such basic topics as the most appropriate crops to grow in urban areas; community-based leadership development for urban agriculture and community food security; the economics of financial incentives to growers and consumers; urban soil remediation demonstrations; policies to expand urban agriculture within low-income communities and utilize the food-growing skills of immigrants and minorities; develop campaigns to utilize local and regional food; expand production and markets for ethnic foods; publicize the health benefits and health care savings from increased vegetable consumption by urban growers.

Conclusion: Realizing the Potential of Urban Agriculture

Constraints on urban agriculture have prevented farmers and consumers from realizing its full potential in the United States. The policies and actions outlined above, as well as others, will help to promote urban agriculture as a powerful instrument for building community food security and increasing economic development in U.S. cities. Urban agriculture worldwide shows us best practices and policy changes that can help us in the United States, as well as problems and difficulties we can learn from.[37] This guide is a tool for community organizations and food security networks to use in their work with local, state and regional governments, as well as with federal agencies, to expand urban agriculture in the United States, and develop a more just and sustainable food system.


Christina said...

Excuse my ignorance but I don’t understand the introduction to this post and would be interested to learn more about the visions both past and present. A policy meeting related to community gardening sounds promising and exciting. However, in my mind I doubt that all stakeholders will be present – because I believe that ALL members of the public are stakeholders in the important question of food supply and food growing! Thank you to the CFPC for being involved and helping to broadly spread the word.

When we speak of urban agriculture and community gardening in particular I think that THE key aspect of these initiatives is the notion of “community.” It is the organisation of individuals towards a shared goal that drives and supports these projects. I envision the growing movement as both organised but spontaneous. There are so many opportunities for urban food growing at so many different scales!

Policies and practices that support and encourage urban agriculture (at all scales) are welcomed. I only wish I could understand the negative tone in introduction to this post – it is disconcerting. This is such a time of positive growth in urban food growing. Let’s keep the momentum going!

Also, as we go forward, let’s not forget about some of the historical initiatives that could enlighten us – such as the Calgary Vacant Lots Garden Club, circa 1912-52, and other private and public food production gardens that have existed in our City’s past.

Christina Smith
Calgary Horticultural Society

ApaulO ARTik Agrinaut said...

Interesting how bureaucrats always default to 'negative' when someone suggests that things could be better.

The Orwell award is always up for grabs.