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The Seattle Local Food Action Initiative. From Governance to Convergence. The Food System and Sustainability. S. Garrett and G. Feenstra “Growing a Community Food System”. Food is key to the climate economy. Food travels 1500 miles before reaching our plates 17% of our fossil

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the seattle local food action initiative

The Seattle Local Food Action Initiative

From Governance to Convergence

the food system and sustainability
The Food System and Sustainability

S. Garrett and G. Feenstra

“Growing a Community Food System”

food is key to the climate economy
Food is key to the climate economy
  • Food travels 1500 miles before reaching

our plates

  • 17% of our fossil

fuel use is for growing and distributing food

Meeting more of Seattle’s food needs with locally and sustainably grown produce can significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and prepare us for the climate economy.

the core question
The Core Question

From a government vantage point, how do you look systemically at the local food system and apply a set of values and goals to that system?

  • Identifying the values and common goals
  • Designing and implementing appropriate actions to meet those goals
  • Creating and sustaining the commitment to act upon the challenges and opportunities
    • partnership between different governmental agencies
    • partnership between public and private entities
more challenges
More Challenges…
  • Disconnection between urban consumers and rural producers
  • Myriad of farmers, small businesses and community efforts not connected
  • Lack of smaller scale local processing and warehousing
  • Meeting the increased demand for local and homegrown food
  • A greater understanding of the connection between public health and good food
even more challenges
Even More Challenges…
  • An increased need for food banks and emergency food
  • Regulatory and policy impediments to meeting goals
  • No systemic policy approach
  • A food system goes beyond political boundaries
  • Don't have all the analysis we need
the project
The Project
  • Location: Seattle City Council
  • Mission
    • The Local Food Action Initiative is a series of actions meant to promote local and regional food sustainability and security.
    • The intent is to improve our local food system and in doing so, advance the City of Seattle's interrelated goals of race and social justice, environmental sustainability, economic development, and emergency preparedness.
the project1
The Project
  • Activities
    • Set the goals and develop the initial framework for actions through discussions and voting on a City Council resolution (with a focus on getting our own “house” in order)
    • Stimulate community partners and collaborations through outreach and visibility of the initiative
    • Align city and regional policies and regulations with the goals stated in the resolution
    • Convene and build relationships among and between a variety of participants in the local food system
the project implementation
The Project Implementation
  • Acting in Support of Specific Goals
  • Three Examples:
    • Increase opportunities for urban agriculture
    • Increase access for all of Seattle’s residents to healthy and local foods
    • Promote and identify permanent locations for farmers markets
urban agriculture
Urban Agriculture
  • Surveyed public lands available for community gardening
  • Applied for a community food grant focused on the needs of low income residents
  • Included $2 million from the 2008 Parks Levy for community gardens – planned 4, have actually created 17 by focusing on land the City already owns
  • Convened meetings to create new partnerships and initiatives:
    • A website linking private land owners with interested gardeners
    • Seattle Central Community College developed a certificate program in urban agriculture
    • Removed regulatory impediments to gardening in planting strips
    • Create "learning gardens" at community centers
food access
Food Access
  • Increased City funding for food banks
  • Established an alliance with the United Way to develop a strategic plan to reduce hunger
  • Funded an outreach staff to help people sign up for SNAP (food stamps)
  • Directed the City of Seattle's Human Services Department to improve data collection about hunger and emergency food
  • Requested the City of Seattle's Parks Department to provide better quality food at after school programs and vending machines
farmers markets
Farmers Markets
  • Streamlined the permitting process and reduced fees
  • Added a new farmers market at City Hall
  • Advocating for the needs of farmers markets with other government agencies
  • Collaborating to establish permanent homes
lessons learned
Lessons Learned
  • By creating the vision and aligning the values and goals we have ignited creativity and the possibility for cultural shift
  • Seattle is exploding in opportunities ; new businesses, new initiatives, volunteers, connecting projects, student projects, etc.
more lessons learned
More Lessons Learned
  • By providing a container we have given visibility and support to existing organizations and projects
  • The region has all the pieces - land base and natural resources , an active citizenry, involved farmers, organic growers, academics, awareness and leadership among elected officials, business innovators, strong NGOs, and consumer demand
core actions in 2010
Core Actions in 2010
  • Declared 2010 as the Year of Urban Agriculture.
  • Launched a web portal to provide information and coordinate activities.
  • Continued the work on a $300,000 Community Food Grant from the US Department of Agriculture in support of actions to provide local, healthy foods in low income neighborhoods of SE and West Seattle - Healthy Corner Store initiative in Delridge, - new food bank garden at Rainier Vista, - Clean Greens Farm and Farmers Market in the Central Area.
more 2010 tasks
More 2010 Tasks
  • Developing a Food System Policy Plan for Seattle.
  • Launching teaching gardens and community kitchen projects at Community Centers, community greenhouse project in Rainier Beach.
  • Using Parks Levy and other funding to continue to expand the P-Patch program.
  • Working with King County to adopt Transfer of Development Rights program to protect farms that serve Seattle’s Farmers Markets.
  • Established Regional Food Policy Council authorized by the Puget Sound Regional Council.
still more 2010 work
Still More 2010 Work
  • Deploying Health Department “Communities Putting Prevention to Work” grant to support community kitchens and market gardens and take steps to provide access to fresh fruits and vegetables in ‘food deserts’.
  • Worked with Health Department to extend and expand nutritional labels in restaurants (Pre-empted – in a good way – by the Health Care Bill).
  • Assisting neighborhoods to include community food planning in the neighborhood planning process.
  • Adopting the Food and Beverage sector as a core sector for economic development.
and finally for 2010
And Finally for 2010
  • Working with community –led projects to coordinate and strengthen their effectiveness.
  • Developing a strategic plan for expanding economic activity and jobs in the local food economy, in conjunction with Regional Food Policy Council.
  • Adopted land use code changes that define ‘Community Garden’ and allow them outright in all zones, define ‘Urban Farm’ and allow specific appropriate models in each zone, allow people in residential zones to grow and sell unprocessed produce on their property, etc.
where will we go in 2011
Where Will We Go in 2011?
  • Focus on economic development.
  • Strengthen urban agriculture.
  • Protect farmland through foodshed initiatives.
  • Expand long-range campaign for healthy food for all.
  • Create indicators of success.
  • Developing urban farms and gardens on City land.
  • Take Seattle Farm Bill Principles around the country.
  • Build partnerships, Regional Food Policy Council.
  • Consider how to take local food work to transformative scale.
constraints and challenges
Constraints and Challenges
  • Moving to a systems perspective
  • Food system not identified as an essential service
  • Insufficient structure to support the opportunities
  • Budget crisis leads to layoffs and scarce new resources
  • Educating elected officials
  • Temporality of elected officials and staff
  • Policy making can be slow
  • Institutionalizing change
  • Making economic opportunities glamorous
key to success
Key to Success
  • Empower, embrace and harvest the collective wisdom of the community!