How To Change the Food System
Here’s the collected wisdom of Guy Dauncey and Carolyn Herriot of Earth Future in Victoria, BC:
40 Ways to Encourage More Local Food Production
For Local Food Growing Champions
1. Form a non-profit society or alliance to champion local food growing, and spearhead a “Grow Closer to Home” food movement for growers and farmers.
2. Work with your municipality to establish Community Allotment Gardens.
3. Hold regular Sustainable Food Forums for networking, education and planning.
4. Organize organic year-round food growing courses and workshops, including for youth, people on low incomes, and ethnic minorities.
5. Encourage micro-market gardening in the city, and Spin Farming.
6. Establish community canning workshops where people can work together to can food.
7. Establish a Farmers Cooperative to share skills, materials, and marketing.
8. Establish a Young Farmers Institute for the next generation of farmers.
9. Encourage more Brown Box and Community Supported Agriculture programs.
10. Celebrate local food through festivals, community events, and by showcasing public food-growing gardens.
11. Encourage more seed saving by organizing an annual Seedy Saturday community show.
12. Encourage Community Fruit Tree Projects to harvest unwanted fruit, and have it juiced for sale and for fundraisers.
13. Create a “Buy Local” label for use in retail food stores.
14. Work with food distributors (e.g. Sysco, Neptune) to get locally produced food into the food distribution system.
For Municipal Councils
15. Make an inventory of all available land, both city-owned and otherwise.
16. Pass a resolution stating the importance of local food cultivation, listing the many benefits of greater food self-sufficiency, and including a goal that most food consumed locally should be grown within a few hundred miles. (e.g. Berkeley Climate Action Plan). Integrate food cultivation into all municipal planning documents. The American Planning Association’s Policy Guide on Regional and Community Food Planning (May 2007) contains 26 recommendations.
17. Support the development of Farmers’ Markets and neighbourhood food stands.
18. Prioritize the use of local organic food at all city-owned events and facilities.
19. Set a goal to develop new Community Allotment Gardens every year, supported by municipal staff. (Seattle has 5.5 municipal staff who support 65 gardens). Create a Matching Grant Fund to support the development of new Gardens, and offer small grants to help with soil-building, water systems, tool sheds, deer-fencing, and improvements.
20. Form a public Community Allotment Gardening Advisory Committee.
21. Pass a bylaw facilitating the development of temporary Community Allotment Gardens on vacant land, and encourage the leasing of vacant land to the municipality or to a Community Gardens Society for the price of the taxes.
22. Issue permits to encourage the development of commercial urban food growing operations.
23. Require the provision of food gardening space in all larger development proposals. In smaller developments, require a development cost charge payment to a Community Gardens Fund.
24. Permit the long-term use of temporary dwellings on farmland for agricultural workers.
25. Integrate ornamentals with edibles, bio-remediation, fiber and medicinal plants in city landscape planning.
26. Establish a community-wide composting program (as in Ladysmith, BC; Halifax, NS; San Francisco, CA).
27. Allowing easier permitting for composting toilets and grey-water irrigation systems.
For the Provincial Government
28. Support “Buy Local” campaigns with grants and other means.
29. Provide financial support for apprenticeship and internship programs created by organic growers.
30. Provide grants and low interest loans to help new farmers buy land, including for the cooperative purchase of land by groups and Land Trusts.
31. Prohibit the removal of land from the Agricultural Land Reserve without replacement with equivalent quality farmland.
32. Revoke the legislation that caused many local livestock slaughtering operations to close down.
33. Remove regulatory barriers that prevent local stores from selling locally grown dairy and meat products, and other barriers to producers processing and distributing their products locally.
34. Create legislation requiring municipal councils to provide at least 15 allotments for every 1,000 households and no more than six people waiting for a plot at any one time (as in Britain).
35. Garden Centres – support the “Grow Closer to Home” food movement by making feature displays of food bedding plants and sponsoring Community Gardens,
36. Supermarkets – increase the availability of local organic produce, and allow local farmers to deliver their produce directly to the store.
37. Regional Health Organizations and other Agencies – prioritize the use of local organic food in all hospitals, care institutions, prisons, etc. (as in Amsterdam).
38. School Boards – require all schools to develop working food gardens, include kitchens, replace junk food with healthy food, and reincorporate agriculture into the curriculum, including food prep, composting, preserving, animal husbandry, and ethnic cooking. (e.g. Agriculture in the Classroom).
39. Restaurants – cooperate to increase the use of local organic food. (e.g. Islands Chefs’ Collaborative).
40. Colleges – offer “How to Grow Food” and Organic Market Gardening entrepreneurship courses.
* These ideas have been drawn from a variety of sources, including Seattle’s P-Patch Community Gardens (60 gardens, 2000 lots); Amsterdam’s City Food Strategy; and local experience (including the BC Sustainable Energy Association members).