Urban Agriculture Kingston

Promoting food sustainability in an urban centre

1) Good point! Food procurement policy in the City of Kingston is pretty much non-existant, or, where it does exist, non-sensical. It makes both economic and environmental sense to support our local industry by providing them with these large contracts for food supply. City Hall can deal with this issue in a number of ways. The first is by simply choosing local businesses over others when deciding for their contracts. This may involve paying a little bit more for some of these larger contracts - but I say it is a budgetary measure that must be accounted for, and I think regulations should be passed demanding at least consideration for local businesses when deciding the outcome of these bidding processes.

The other way the city can help is by acting as a broker between farmer and food provider. When the contracts become available, they should be posted in an easily accessible part of the City's website, for all local businesses to view and make a bid on. In the day of craigslist and kijiji, I think it's perfectly reasonable to deal with city contracts in this fashion... open up every event, big and small, to both the big players and the little, by making it more accessible, less "backroom", and overall better for the environment.

2) This question also relates to my idea of the city as a broker... it is important that we make this process easy, for both farmers and food banks, to ensure a steady supply of food for the city's needy. In many cases, farmers are expected to donate food to food banks, even if it means losing money. I think the city's financial allocation can be put to work here... the city can pay farmers enough to at least cover the cost of the crop, and then donate that food in its entirety to local food banks. Ultimately, it's about making it easier for both parties... if the role of the city isn't making things that benefit our citizen's health easier for citizen and supplier, what is its role?

3) I have to say, this is an idea that is new to me, but which I completely support. We need consultation from our farmers, urban agriculturalists, food suppliers, contracters, and politicians on this issue. Food security is only going to get more important. Let's get ahead of the curve and start discussing these issues before the problems come nipping at our heels.

4) Good question. One location where I would commit 100% to securing a plot of land for urban agriculture would be the prison farmlands, if they were to make it to market. I believe it is vital to the health of the city that we not only prevent this plot of land from being wasted on another suburb or industrial park, but develop it into an agricultural heart for the city. This is a location where I can see hobby agriculturalists learning to grow their own food supply, kids discovering the wonders of farming, and professionals developing a steady source for a small part of the city's food consumption.

As far as another two, I am hard pressed to think of specific examples. However, I will say that generally speaking, I believe it is important to encourage urban agriculture projects wherever they are suggested... this city invests a lot in its sport centres and arenas. Why can't we start thinking of community gardens and farming plots in the same way? These are places where people come together to take part in their community, become active, learn a skill, and produce something. Isn't this exactly what an arena accomplishes? And I can bet an urban farming allocation doesn't cost $70 million either...

5) I know this is a complex issue, and I also know that I 100% do not know enough about it. I'm inclined initially to say that I support it... having had farm fresh eggs before, I am blinded by my love of omlettes from seeing any negatives. I know that some have complained of hygiene issues and noise complaints. My initial position would be to support the licensing of backyard hens, followed by perhaps a full overturning of the ban after a consulting process (just so I can learn more about it).

Cheers!

John Last