Local Food

Overview

Buying and growing food locally is a part of Clearwater Greenprint, the city's sustainability plangreenprint, sustainability, resiliency, palm tree, frond

Why Local Food is Important

Pinellas County is largely developed with only a few small farms within its boundaries. As a result, most food consumed by Clearwater residents comes from other counties, states, and even countries. Transporting this food from far-away locations requires fuel and accounts 14% of the total energy used to get food from farm to market.

A sustainable community provides healthy food for its people. The quality of food, health, and the natural environment are interconnected. The availability of healthy foods directly influences what people eat and therefore their physical well-being. Local foods are transported shorter distances from farm to consumer tables, ensuring fresher foods while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Local foods also tend to be less processed and require less refrigeration, which also reduces GHG emissions. Local foods are generally fresher than foods transported long distances. Most locally-produced food also uses fewer toxic chemicals, which can impact community health and the natural environment. Eating a diet that is also rich in plants has a lower carbon footprint and conserves more water than diets with higher amounts of meat.

While younger generations have grown up without great awareness of where their food comes from, there are many people in Clearwater that have substantial knowledge about small-scale food production that could provide guidance for community gardening. This presents a significant opportunity for learning, experimenting, and knowledge sharing within the community and even bridging cultural and generational divides. Growing food also brings about a greater knowledge of Clearwater’s seasons, soil, and wildlife. This knowledge adds to a greater sense of place and care for our land.

Local Food Strategies Overview

Urban Agriculture Task Force

  • Organize and facilitate a task force to assist in developing and implementing recommendations for expanding local food production.
  • Develop partnerships among non-profits, ministries, neighborhood associations, and private interests to increase local food production and commerce, funding opportunities, and pooling of resources.
  • Leverage partnerships to obtain grant funding for planning and project start-up activities.

Local Food Production

  • Define “local” in the context of food production and the community’s needs.
  • Develop a “foodshed program”, “Buy Fresh Buy Local”, in collaboration with regional partners to increase availability of local foods.

Urban Agriculture

  • Conduct an inventory of public and semi-public lands that would be suitable for food production for pilot projects.
  • Amend the Community Development code to allow and support community gardens and other forms of urban agriculture.

Community Garden Grant Program

  • Create a Community Garden Grant Program.

Climate-Friendly Food Policy

  • Encourage staff and residents to a eat plant-rich meal at least once a week.
  • Integrate climate-friendly food procurement guidelines into the Green Procurement Policy.
  • Consider a resolution in support of “Meatless Mondays."

Strategy 1: Urban Agriculture Task Force

  • Organize and facilitate a task force to assist in developing and implementing recommendations for expanding local food production.
  • Develop partnerships among non-profits, ministries, neighborhood associations, and private interests to increase local food production and commerce, funding opportunities, and pooling of resources.
  • Leverage partnerships to obtain grant funding for planning and project start-up activities.

A new task force organized and facilitated by the city will assist in developing and implementing recommendations for expanding local food production. The task force will develop partnerships among non-profits, ministries, neighborhood associations and private interests to increase local food production and commerce, funding opportunities, and pooling of resources. Partnerships will increase opportunities for grant funding for planning and project start-up activities. The task force could create an educational campaign to bolster awareness and use of existing initiatives that promote local food consumption.

Strategy 2: Local Food Production

  • Define “local” in the context of food production and the community’s needs.
  • Develop a “foodshed program”, “Buy Fresh Buy Local”, in collaboration with regional partners to increase availability of local foods.

The Urban Agriculture Task Force should define what is “local” in the context of food production and the community’s needs and develop a “foodshed” program in collaboration with regional partners to increase the availability of local foods. A “Buy Fresh Buy Local” program will serve as a model program for strengthening local and regional markets. It will identify and highlight local growers, exposing them to the local Clearwater market. It will also provide general information on the benefits of locally sourced food. The program would create multiple food growing, processing, storing, and selling opportunities, increase awareness, and provide linkages between farmers, consumers and organizations. Developing more local food systems will also serve to create greater resilience throughout our community by increasing food security.

Strategy 3: Urban Agriculture

  • Conduct an inventory of public and semi-public lands that would be suitable for food production for pilot projects.
  • Amend the Community Development code to allow and support community gardens and other forms of urban agriculture.

The city will conduct an inventory of public and semi-public lands that would be suitable for food production for the purpose of identifying sites for food production pilot projects. The city will amend the Community Development Code to allow and support community gardens and other forms of urban agriculture. Amendments will address hydroponics or other food production facilities in existing and new buildings.

Strategy 4: Community Garden Grant Program

  • Community Garden Grant Program

Getting outside and gardening has known physical, mental, and emotional health benefits. Participating in a community garden can multiply these benefits. From a sustainability perspective, community gardens are great because they increase our community’s access to fresh and local produce, improving Clearwater’s carbon footprint by decreasing the travel distance food takes from farm to table. This close proximity also helps to encourage a more resilient food system. Community gardens go even further to enable additional social benefits, as they encourage neighbors to get to know one another and support a sense of place and pride within our community.

To support Clearwater’s existing community gardens and encourage new community gardens to develop, the city of Clearwater will create a Community Garden Grant Program. The mission of the Program will be to advance the city’s sustainability goals by supporting the creation or development of community gardens within city limits.

Strategy 5: Climate-Friendly Food Policy

  • Encourage staff and residents to a eat plant-rich meal at least once a week.
  • Integrate climate-friendly food procurement guidelines into the Green Procurement Policy.
  • Consider a resolution in support of “Meatless Mondays.”

U.S. citizens consume roughly 2.6 times more meat than the global per person average. Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture have increased by 10.1% since 1990 and animal agriculture is now responsible for more than half of all food related greenhouse gas emissions. Alternatively, diets that are plant-rich, meaning they include more vegetables, fruits, and grains, have lower emissions than diets that mostly derived from animal products. There are also additional health benefit for plant-rich diets, including reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

 

Learn More About Local Food

Meatless Mondays

Benefits of Gardening

Low-Meat Diet Health Benefits