Cultivating Community Gardens

The Role of Local Government in Creating Healthy, Livable Neighborhoods

 

Case Study: Food Policy Councils Sow Seeds For Better Health

Oregon’s Portland/Multnomah Food Policy Council (FPC) was developed in 2002 by a joint action of the city of Portland and Multnomah County. Housed in Portland’s Office of Sustainable Development, the FPC provides research and recommendations to the city on institutional food practices, citizen food awareness, hunger and food access, urban land use policies, business and economic issues and environmental impacts on the food system.

In November 2004, urban planning students from Portland State University (PSU) took inventory of all city-owned land that could be used for community gardens and other urban-agriculture initiatives. Based on their findings, the FPC formed technical advisory committees to explore how to integrate urban agriculture into city-owned properties. The FPC also formed a committee to ensure that food policy is considered and incorporated, where appropriate, into Oregon’s short and long-range plans at all levels.

The FPC also conducted in 2004 a community food assessment and market basket survey in the Lents neighborhood that indicated the need for better food security. In response, the FPC acquired grant funding to facilitate the creation of home gardens, cooking classes for children, adolescents and adults, and a children’s summer camp. This pilot food assessment project was so successful that the FPC is now determining how to use it as a model for other neighborhoods throughout Portland.

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