Urban Agriculture

Strategy #8 - Urban Agriculture

Intent

This performance area intends to educate and support residents on the importance of sourcing local sustainable food.  Sustainable agriculture can feed the world without damaging the environment or threatening human health.  Community gardens, as neighborhood places, support healthy living.  Industrial farming negatively impacts the environment in myriad ways (e.g., by polluting the air, surface water, and groundwater, over-consuming fossil fuel and water resources, degrading soil quality, inducing erosion, and accelerating the loss of biodiversity).  It should be noted that conventional food is estimated to typically travel between 1,500 and 3,000 miles to reach the consumer and usually requires additional packaging and refrigeration all while valuable nutrients are lost in the transition.  Many small-scale, local farms attempt to ameliorate the environmental damage done via industrial farming by focusing on sustainable practices, such as minimized pesticide use, no-till agriculture and composting, minimized transport to consumers, and minimal to no packaging for their farm products.  This performance area aims at educating residents on what it means to produce food sustainably and how we can transition to a sustainable food future.

Goal

Ensure access to healthy, local and affordable food.

Objectives

  1. Inspire children to learn about the connection between land and food
  2. Encourage children to learn the value of incorporating healthy foods into their daily diet and to grow produce at school
  3. Ensure access to community garden facilities where anyone has the option to grow their own food
  4. Ensure accessibility to a local farmers market, CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and/or other direct to consumers programs to ensure fresh produce is available
  5. Encourage food recovery programs to donate extra food from restaurants to shelters and compost remaining scraps
  6. Encourage a holistic approach with community interaction and teamwork

Projects

Restaurant Composting and Recycling

This project is made possible by a grant from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control for a pilot project in the EcoDistrict intended to divert food waste from being landfilled and direct it toward donation and composting instead.  The project will provide resources and training to help Upper Peninsula Initiative restaurants initiate food waste composting programs, and will also provide resources to help further their recycling programs.  The grant is in collaboration with Charleston County Environmental Management.  Metrics relating to quantity of food waste diverted from the landfill and cost analysis data will be made available.  It is hopeful the results of this pilot project will bring greater awareness to reducing food waste in the landfill and will benefit all restaurants and citizens in the Charleston region who are interested in streamlining their waste.  More information about this project can be found here: http://charlestonup.com/compostingproject/

Food Access & Education: “Build Your Own Raised Garden Bed Workshop”

To expand food access and bring greater educational awareness to growing your own food, we paired our July 2016 monthly gathering event with a hands-on workshop to “build your own raised bed”, ideal for vegetable growing.  The event took place at Perrin Woodworking, a local business in an authentic warehouse in the Upper Peninsula, who were able to acquire sustainably sourced wood for this workshop.  The experts at Perrin Woodworking partnered with the pros at The Green Heart Project to lead the workshop. More details and pictures from the event can be found on the Facebook event page.

Fruit Trees

The group is working on promoting the planting of food bearing trees (fruit and nut) in local parks of the Upper Peninsula for the public to pick from.  A test site will be chosen to first test species and possible maintenance concerns.

Projects Others Manage and We Champion!

There are excellent existing programs our partners manage and we appreciate and champion their efforts!

Food Access

Fresh Future Farm is an urban farm and grocery store in the Chicora-Cherokee neighborhood.  Fresh Future Farm will grow healthy organic food (and livestock!) and make them available at an affordable price.

Lowcountry Street Grocery is Charleston’s first mission-driven mobile farmers’ market committed to improving healthy food access & bolstering our local food economy.  They hope to bring affordable food options to low income communities.

We also champion the nearby community gardens such as Romney Street Urban Garden (to the west), Elliotborough Community Garden (to the south), and Chicora Place Community Garden (to the north) and are researching whether there is a desire from the community for another garden to form in the Upper Peninsula.  Please contact us if you are interested.

Food Education

The Green Heart Project is a farm-to-school program pairing volunteers with students to build and maintain an urban garden while reiterating classroom curriculum connecting students to fresh, healthy foods instilling virtues of hard work & success fostering relationships and building community.

Rooftop Urban Garden

Crop Up collaborates on community-based food projects in urban areas and is looking for a rooftop or building that could serve as a vertical farm that could provide an opportunity to be a demonstration of an urban food production site.   Please contact us if you are interested in donating space.

Connecting Farms and People

Lowcountry Local First  manages an innovative farm program that provides the infrastructure and support network to help new farm businesses launch and succeed.  LLF runs a first time farmer apprenticeship program, the Dirt Works Incubator Farm (teaching farm), and a farm linking service for program graduates. Together, these three enterprises make up the Growing New Farmers Program which is part of their Eat Local Initiative.

Grow Food Carolina is the state’s first local food hub launched in 2011 by the Coastal Conservation League.  The objective of GrowFood is to tap into the existing assets of small-scale agriculture to help create a stronger rural economy, spurring job creation, and building capacity in rural communities by connecting farm businesses to the thriving local food movement.