5% Local Coalition Foodshed Policy Packet
Local Government Policies, Initiatives, and Programs to Grow a Foodshed in Richmond
I. You can ask your City Council to. . .
A. Adopt a resolution that:
- Recognizes existing community food production projects and their role in improving the local food system.
- Supports and encourages commercial market gardens, community gardens, school gardens, workplace gardens, backyard gardens, and edible landscaping.
- Creates a home gardeners award program celebrating home gardeners who improve the local food supply.
B. Prioritize support for food production in existing, relevant City agencies:
- Create an edible landscaping position in the Parks and Landscaping Division who would help community groups identify community garden sites, and develop and tend edible landscaping, berrylands, community gardens, and orchards on City-owned or other public land.
- Add gardening classes to the Recreation Department course offerings and create community gardens or edible landscaping at every Recreation Center.
- Create a Tool Lending Library managed by the Richmond Public Library.
- Put a Victory Garden in front of the new City Hall. Start a pilot gardening program for City Hall. Recruit County Health, Kaiser, or UC Berkeley to study health effects of city workers who have access to garden plots at their worksite.
C. Create an urban farm business incubator to promote sustainable, green jobs and access to healthy foods.
Work with the Richmond Redevelopment Agency and RichmondWORKS to create an urban farm business incubator. Such an incubator could create 8 full-time, self-sufficient jobs on just 4 acres of land, while increasing local access to fresh, organic produce and building local knowledge about sustainable food production and market gardening. (See attachment Urban Farm Business Incubator)
D. Explore ways to create a local funding stream to support both commercial and community foodshed development in Richmond. ?This position is actually included in the draft Richmond General Plan update, Health Element. Some possible funding mechanisms include:
- Soda License Fees (Click here for document Nutrition Fee Policy)
- Benefit Assessment District to support foodshed development
- Direct a percentage of developer’s open space In-Lieu Fees to foodshed development
E. Write support for neighborhood farms and gardens into land use policies and development codes. The US Green Building Council’s Neighborhood Development-LEED Certification standards suggest reserving 5% of all residential development land for community farms and gardens. Neighborhood Developmen-LEED Certification also requires developers to fund neighborhood farm and garden infrastructure costs AND a community oversight mechanism. (Click for document LEED Neighborhood Development Local Food )
- Include standards for access to and availability of community gardens in land use policies. Were Richmond to set and reach a goal of 1 community garden per 1,000 households, it would have the highest density of community gardens in the nation. (See document Community Garden Policy Inventory from Planning for Healthy Places)
- Create a zoning use category specifically for urban farms and community gardens on public land.
- Allow developers to include community farms gardens as a component of the required open space in new developments.
F. Involve other agencies to help fund and support foodshed development in Richmond. The County Health and Human Services Department, the Redevelopment Agency, the Chamber of Commerce, the Office of Neighborhood Safety, the WCC Unified School District, West County Waste Management, the County Agriculture Department, the UC Extension Service, the West County Business Development Corporation, and Rosie the Riveter National Park are just some examples of local agencies or organizations that have missions which would partially be advanced by growing a foodshed on our commons in Richmond/west Contra Costa County. City Council members could engage these organizations to explore jointly funding projects like a Foodshed Specialist position in Parks and Landscaping, an urban farm business incubator, or an Earth Victory Garden or Community Garden Campaign.
II. You can ask your school board to. . .
(1) Adopt resolutions recognizing the important work of school gardeners and the new Growing West County School Gardens group and encouraging all schools to develop gardening programs.
(2) Start a “Garden Bed for Every Child” campaign. WCCUSD students could be growing 25% of their total produce needs in as little as 100 square feet and 3 hours a week. (According to land use consultants at MIG, there are well over 150 acres of asphalt alone in WCCUSD schools, so we have more than enough space for 100 square feet of garden beds for each of the 30,000 WCCUSD students). Studies suggest and experience confirms that when students grow fruits and vegetables, you don’t have to work very hard to increase their intake of fruits and vegetables. Such a campaign would put WCCUSD on the cutting edge of the fight against the epidemic of diet-related health conditions and would help address inequitable access to organic produce within our community.
(3) Create a school garden council. A school garden council could facilitate communication between the administration and school gardeners, work to develop district-wide funding to support school garden programs, coordinate donations of soil, mulch, and materials, as well as pool resources to develop curriculum.
(4) Start market-garden business programs at schools which supply most of the WCCUSD salad needs or provide fresh, organic produce directly to school families. You can grow 100 pounds of salad greens a week in as little as 2,000 square feet. In addition to being, fresh, healthy, and organic, this produce would also be “high-context” and more meaningful for WCCUSD students. Richmond High School has already started a market garden program and has sold more than $500+ of RHS agricultural products in the past six months alone. For the past two years, Verde Partnership Garden has hosted monthly or biweekly produce sales at Verde Elementary, providing more than 1,000 pounds of low-cost, fresh, organic produce to the North Richmond community. With school district support, every school could become a source of fresh, organic produce, empowering our students and their families to develop healthy lifelong eating habits.
(5) Ask Nutrition services to create purchasing preferences for both within-district and within-county produced food. The school district spends tens of thousands of dollars on produce annually; right now, nearly all of that money leaves our community. By spending those dollars locally, the school district could get fresh, healthy produce AND promote a local foodshed.
(6) Help develop performance-based garden curriculum standards. Right now, most of the curriculum standards related to gardening are knowledge-based. Students learn “about” plants and other subjects related to gardening, but do not acquire the skills to actually become independent gardeners who can produce enough food to improve their own diets. Imagine if physical education standards were strictly knowledge-based. It would seem silly to have physical education classes in which students only learned about various sports or healthy activities. Approximately half of the California state curriculum standards for physical education are performance standards. We could use this as a model for developing a district gardening curriculum. With burgeoning local interest in school garden programs, West Contra Costa County Unified School District could become a national leader in garden education by developing and adopting a set of performance-based garden curriculum standards (For example, “Demonstrate the ability to transplant a tomato seedling. . .”) rather than just squeeze academic and knowledge-based curriculum into a strictly educational garden program. Our gardens can do much more than be a place where our students learn “about” things.