Posts By Davina van Buren
Whether you are new to the local food scene, or you’ve been buying from your neighborhood farmers market for years, you’re making a big difference in the lives of small farmers and food distributors. But the food system is complicated. It’s not always clear how to spend your resources—whether to invest time or money—to best support your local food system.
So we’ve compiled six tips to make it even easier for you to support local food producers.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that urban agriculture—the practice of cultivating and distributing food in population-dense areas—is all the rage.
As Americans learn more about our food system and how it affects our health and the environment, many city-dwellers are looking for alternatives to pesticide-laden fruit and vegetables, GMOs and CAFOs.
In response, many farmers have turned to cultivating in cities to take advantage of the market demand for locally grown crops. And ordinary citizens are taking it upon themselves to learn how to grow their own food.
Mike Lott is not your run of the mill farmer. Not long ago, before making the decision to embark on a career in farming and launch his aquaponic and urban agriculture venture, Urban Food Works in Murietta, CA, Lott was a professional golfer.
As a kid growing up in southern California, he didn’t awake early in the morning to milk and feed cows, harvest crops, or turn the soil. Instead, he honed his golf game in anticipation of one day playing professionally. After high school Lott headed to the College of the Desert in Palm Desert not only because of its well-known golf program, but also to study Environmental Science. It was there that the seeds of Lott’s interest in and current passion for urban farming and the environment were sown.
Residents of Sparks, Nevada now have a lot more options when it comes to farming inside city limits.
In October, city council members voted unanimously to approve a new urban agriculture ordinance that allows for community gardens to be built on vacant or blighted plots in the city. Citizens will also be allowed to raise chickens and bees on private properties.
According to City Manager Steve Driscoll, the revamp of the city’s zoning codes had been in the works for quite some time. As a result of the housing recession, the city council wanted to take a fresh look at what would make the smartest uses of available land and zoning designations.
“In the late 1990s, we were building 300-400 new houses a year in Sparks,” says Driscoll. “From 2003–2005, we were building 2,500 houses a year. In 2008, we built zero. We looked at all our building processes and asked, ‘What lessons did we learn? If we ever ramp up and do that number of houses again, what would we do differently?’”
Getting ready to put together those New Years’ resolutions? If eating more sustainably is among them, here’s a quick guide to get you started.
1. Can, freeze and dehydrate all year.
Put up foods like berries and summery fruits and veggies throughout the year instead of buying them out of season. This way you can still cook with local foods even in the dead of winter. Save money by patronizing you-pick farms for berries and vegetables in the summer; apples, pears and pumpkins in the fall.