Pinellas County is a largely developed county 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 for 14 percent 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 greenhouse gas 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.
- In 2015, the city amended the Community Development Code to allow for community gardens and urban farms in the city.
- The city leases land to the Clearwater Community Gardens, a non-profit organization that allows residents to rent a raised garden bed and maintain a large pollinator garden as well as bee hives.
- The Clearwater Garden Club, a separate group that frequently partners with the Clearwater Community Garden, hosts educational events for the community to encourage gardening and an appreciation for plants.