A Call to Action
In June 2011, The Ontario Professional Planners Institute issued a Call to Action: ‘Healthy Communities and Planning for Food - Planning for Food Systems in Ontario’.
The Call to Action explains that “A food system is generally defined as a set of food related activities including agriculture, processing, distribution, consumption, and waste management, each with its attendant social, environmental and economic dimensions.”
The document cautions that “Because food is everybody’s issue, it is in danger of becoming nobody’s issue” and encourages all levels of government, industry stakeholders, and each and every citizen (You!) to actively seek out information to become more aware of the challenges and threats facing our food system today.
Planners are called upon to take a leadership role in planning for food systems through education of ourselves, policy makers and the public and by applying sustainable food system principles to our land use planning recommendations.
Food System Efforts in Meaford
In response to this Call to Action, I recently completed a course with Seneca College called ‘Field to Fork – Introduction to Global and Local Food Systems’ which has provided me with a foundation for additional research and learning. Through my policy development role with Meaford I have been investigating a number of approaches that Council could consider in support of sustainable food systems, for example:
· Creating Community Garden and Backyard Hen policies to support self-sufficiency for those who wish to pursue it;
· Updating our Rural & Agricultural designations and looking at best practices to encourage opportunities for on-farm diversification for our farmers (i.e. Bed & Breakfasts, Agri-tourism, Home Industries and Occupations, Direct Sales, etc…); and,
· Evaluating our policies relating to rural accessory apartments and both temporary and full-time farm help accommodation to allow for greater flexibility and fewer barriers.
Most recently I have been giving thought to the best ways to support the implementation of the Municipality’s recent Agri-business Strategy (available here under ‘Agri-business’ heading) through supportive policy and zoning provisions.
My Challenge to You
As someone who eats food (…and I’d guess that you do to) I’d like to ask you to join me on my learning adventure. Let’s not let food become “nobody’s issue”.
I challenge you to commit just 5 minutes to pursue new information on sustainable food systems. This could be as easy as doing a ‘Google’ search (try keywords: local food systems, sustainable food systems, food system planning, food security, food system challenges etc…) or perhaps review OPPI’s Call to Action or their related Resource List by following the links in this post.