Food production in urban centres may well be the place to begin developing strong local economies. To begin with everyone has to eat and most of us want to do so on a regular basis. This is a common ground that can be used to bring people together to discuss how they can work together to meet their food needs from main courses to condiments.
Agriculture is a major industry and moving food from the
field to the kitchen is a huge enterprise. It is possible to reduce the
distance traveled, improve the quality and freshness of the product and reduce
our use of fossil fuels to do so.
Meat and diary producers would be located on farm land that
is near to the community and may even provide the opportunity for consumers to
enjoy an outing while going out to the farm to purchase the goods.
Cheese makers could be located near to the milk producers
and have an on site sale room that could include a plant tour and some product
samples. This combines food production with tourism and opens the door for
local food tourism enterprises.
In town and village there could be urban agricultural sites
that produce all the fruit, vegetable and herb needs.
This also paves the way for local businesses to make herbal
vinegars and teas for example.
Growers and producers could participate in a local farmers
market which would include regional crafters and artists.
Growers could also sell from their farm site direct or through a cooperative food buying program.
Most municipalities have areas that have become run down or
litter attractors. They are also likely to have abandoned industrial sites such
as factories or gas stations which are known as brownfields.
The restoration of these brownfields can not only improve
the visual appeal of the municipality but can be an economic activity.
Housing is one use, affordable, accessible and
environmentally sound housing is one project. Urban gardens are another.
Green spaces bring tranquility and can cause visitors to
slow down and look around; they might even park the car and take a stroll down
that tree-lined avenue.
The first step towards growing a strong regional economy is to look at the money you spend on
shopping as an investment when you invest it locally you help build your
community when you spend it in a shop that is owned by a corporation far from
your home, you are sending that money away.