What's on my mind these days, and a suitable topic for 2009 Blog Action Day on climate change, is local food production and how municipalities might help to make it easier for residents to produce food themselves and to buy locally-produced food.
The March 2009 issue of Municipal World ("Canada's municipal magazine since 1891") had an article talking about "foodshed strategy." It provides inspiring examples of ways that municipal governments and other organizations are finding ways to "shorten food chains and build community capacity."
A foodshed strategy, according to the article, includes three basic elements that depend on local resources and experiences:
- direct-marketing venues
- processes that connect producers and consumers
- avenues to develop greater access and security to food
There are aspects of these elements already in place in small ways in our region, and although we haven't completely lost our connection between food production and consumption in this area, we increasingly rely on food that comes from a great distance. Transporting food is a contributor to climate change; it also makes us vulnerable to disruptions in supply.
As a small step in this direction, since Peace River is currently reviewing its Animal Control Bylaw, I asked a local food advocate to do a presentation to inform Council (October 19, 5:30) about whether small scale poultry production Peace River might fit. It will be interesting to see how residents respond to this idea and to the more general idea of increasing local food production capacity.
There are visionary people in the region already working in practical ways on food issues. Municipal governments can provide support and leadership through appropriate bylaws, programs and other initiatives that could lead to a Peace regional foodshed strategy. The Town of Peace River is in the midst of developing a municipal sustainability plan; a foodshed strategy would fit in nicely. I'm looking forward to more discussion, but more importantly, action in this direction.