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Farm Link will Aid Inner Cities

by 5m Editor
10 April 2008, at 11:10am

CALIFORNIA - A county Board of Supervisors is taking steps to encourage inner city communities of western Contra Costa County to think about food and where it comes from. It is aiming to link the vast agricultural fields of East County with the produce-scarce neighborhoods of West County.

A report in the Contra Costa Times says the board has voted to direct the county Health Services and Agriculture departments to begin working with nonprofit groups and farmers. The initiative aims to increase food education and improve distribution methods in order to get East County produce into West County kitchens. The resolution ties in with the existing Buy Fresh, Buy Local campaign.

In many inner city areas it is often easier to buy a beer than a fresh apple, says a new PBS documentary series 'Unnatural Causes' that explores the relationship between where people live and their health.

"It gets to achieving two things," said county Supervisor John Gioia, who represents West County. "Getting more county residents access to fresh food at school and at home, (and) the second part of this is how it benefits our local farmers and improves their economic viability."

The board has also declared June as Buy Fresh, Buy Local Food Awareness Month in Contra Costa County.

The leaders of county nonprofit groups tied to the effort are already planning ways to put the board's ideas in action.

Lindsay Johnson, program director at the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano counties, said she envisions distributing surplus East County produce to children in inner-city schools through its Farm to Kids program. This scheme is already in place at 15 schools in Pittsburg, Bay Point and Concord with 37 eligible schools in West County.

Education

Another component of the county plan includes more classroom education about produce and nutrition, and field trips that would take inner-city kids to see where their food is grown.

"Many kids in West County don't know that peas aren't grown from a can, that they're not grown in the frozen food section," said Supervisor Mary Piepho, whose district includes the county's 12,000 acres of protected agricultural core land.

Kathryn Lyddan, chief executive of the Brentwood Agricultural Land Trust preservation organisation, said that there is still much work to be done. However, she is looking forward to linking with West County, as well as the economic boost this effort could give to local farmers.

"I think that it is a fantastic beginning of connecting a whole bunch of dots that are already there," she said.

View the Contra County Times story by clicking here.

5m Editor