Sustainable Local Food in the City’s Planning Radar!

As part of the Our Climate Future Initiative (OCF), City staff has incorporated thirteen “Big Moves” into its planning, among them, “Local, Affordable, and Healthy Food.” This is exciting because it is the first time the City has incorporated Local Food Production as part of its planning. Here is the wording in the City’s Our Climate Future DRAFT for this “Big Move”. January 26, 2021 Page 25 of 39 Big Move 5:

Move 5 – Local, Affordable and Healthy Food: Everyone has access to healthy and affordable food, sourced or rescued from local and regional producers

Like housing, food is an essential component of each of our lives, which is why it’s also part of Our Climate Future. A sustainable, local food system can have broad reaching and positive impacts ranging from improved soil, water, and ecosystem health to providing a healthy and reliable food source for all members of our community. Nearly 40,000 residents in Larimer County are considered food insecure, while one third of school-aged children receive free or reduced meals. Through innovative partnerships, all of us can have increased access to healthy, fresh foods grown and raised close to home. Affordable, accessible local food will require support across the food system – decreasing barriers for farmers to establish and expand their efforts, while building an efficient and effective system for affordably distributing this food to the community.

To truly be successfully, this Big Move will require deep and sustained partnerships between governmental entities, nonprofits, and private enterprises. The City as an organization has had limited focus on our food systems, but there are many leaders in this space in Fort Collins, and as a community, we can begin to shift our food systems to be more focused on local, affordable, and healthy food options.

Tracking progress on this Big Move: In development. What does that mean? We don’t currently have a great way to measure progress on this Big Move. We’re working on figuring out the best way to do so.

The City’s identified “Next Moves”:

1. Promote local food through education.
2. Decrease barriers for home gardening, residential farming, and small, sustainable operations
3. Explore mechanisms to incentivize partnerships between government, nonprofits, and private enterprises that increase access to local, affordable, and healthy food.
4. Increase access to affordable CSAs (community supported agriculture) subscriptions.

NoCo GLEAN would like to work to influence local policy towards more transformative moves towards localizing food production and consumption in Fort Collins. Here are some ideas:

Adding a section to the City’s website dedicated to providing information about local food production, such as a dashboard showing the percent of food produced within the metropolitan area and an interactive map of community gardens, farmers’ markets, and food stands.

Creating an advisory board or commission with the specific purpose of addressing sustainable food production in the city.

Including existing and future organizations that advocate for local food production in the decision-making process for planning and resource allocation in this area.

Setting aside portions of City-owned land, such as parks and median strips, for community gardens and other local food production projects.

Requiring/encouraging future multi-family housing projects to set aside a portion of their land for community gardens.

Establishing a “green belt” around Fort Collins that would include zoning for land dedicated to food production.