Thursday, May 14, 2015

Lexington To Fully Enbrace Community Supported Agriculture?

I am a big fan of CSAs, as in Community Supported Agriculture.  We have looked at joining a CSA for several years but most have required a substantial payment before the growing season begins and it just wasn't in the budget at the time.  This year things were different.

We have joined an alternative style of CSA called the New Roots Fresh Stop.  It is designed for those of more limited means and works more like a subscription farmers market.  Our farmer knows that a certain number of members will be arriving on the delivery days and buying the bi-weekly agreed upon quantity of what they need. Each family will be getting a different variety of produce. 

This CSA plus whatever we can harvest from our own garden and our work with Seedleaf will be worth whatever we have put into it.

On the other hand, I believe that there is another aspect of community supported agriculture and that pertains to the encouragement of neighborhood community gardens and the ability of a neighborhood to feed itself.  Every family in Lexington needs to realize food security through local food access.

Lexington has worked with Seedleaf, a local non-profit, which teaches about and operates small plots of neighborhood gardens, especially in our local food deserts.  It now appears that Lexington is creating an ordinance to promote and regulate not only community gardens but also what they are calling "market gardens".  The stated primary purpose of private, community and market gardens is to promote sustainable and affordable local food production for local consumption.

Market gardens would be defined as "an area of lane less than five (5) continuous acres in size for the cultivation of food and/or non-food crops by an individual or a group of individuals to be sold on-site or off-site for profit.  Think about that for just a minute.  A neighborhood could develop a parcel or group of parcels, not just as a garden to feed themselves but a way to raise funds to make the garden sustainable over the long haul. This will change the concept of local foods for many people.

While the market gardens are allowed on-site sale facilities the community gardens are not.  I see no reason that some sort of cooperative agreement could not be reached where the market garden sales site may sell produce from one or more community gardens.  

Provisions are also made for up to 15% of a community garden site to be covered with accessory structures  Accessory structures are identified as storage sheds, hoop houses, trellises for shade, picnic tables and benches.  Add the possibility of a fire pit or a grill and we could realize the truth of "farm to table" right in the community garden with your neighbors.

I also like the inclusion of permitting such gardens within a FEMA floodplain as long as one meets all the regulations on slope and existing vegetation retention.  There are several locations which are currently quite underutilized and their neighborhoods could benefit from a community garden or two.

The information I have referenced here is only in draft form but I think that it is far enough along to bring to you.  I am happy that we are actually moving toward a reasonable food policy which allows a sense of food access and food security.  If you feel as I do, please let your Council representative know that we need this to come to pass.

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