Local food initiatives continue to flourish in both the public and private sectors!
Creating public policy
This month marks the one-year anniversary for the Regional Food Policy Council (RFPC), our unique approach to developing a coordinated strategy to promote public policy supporting local, healthy food in our region. The RFPC is organized under the Puget Sound Regional Council (the four-county planning group for the Seattle metropolitan area), and includes some 30 representatives of government, business, labor, farm, and public interest groups.
The RFPC has met monthly since last September, and is just poised to begin its first major policy work. The first few months were devoted to learning about the agriculture programs in King, Kitsap, Snohomish, and Pierce Counties, crafting a mission statement, and adopting vision and goal statements. In August, the RFPC formed subcommittees on Agriculture, Economic Development, and Equity – three key areas for policy development.
In addition to these activities, the RFPC and staff reviewed and commented on proposed King County and national indicators for community food systems, collaborated with a graduate studio at the UW to develop an existing conditions report and food system assessment, developed a methodology to organize existing food-related policies based on a review of codes and plans from more than 50 cities within the region, and compiled an online directory of food policy research and reports.
The subcommittees will be recommending action items over the next few weeks, and the RFPC will make recommendations based on these to cities, counties, and the private sector for policy actions that will improve our system for growing, processing, and distributing food.
Advancing farming and business development
On Monday, September 19, my office hosted an Urban Agriculture Business Forum at City Hall. More than 90 participants came together to discuss City services, programs, policies, and regulations impacting urban agriculture and associated businesses. City planning, economic development, and neighborhoods staff were present, along with representatives from public health and WSU extension.
The turnout was way beyond our wildest expectations! In addition to sharing information and learning about City work, participants were excited about creating a sector development strategy for urban ag. They also talked about developing a business directory and an urban agriculture business association to further communication, coordinate business development, and help design City policies that will facilitate continued growth of businesses associated with local food in Seattle. Thanks to Phyllis Shulman in my office and Eva Ringstrom, our summer intern, for organizing this forum!