Farm to Table? Not So Easy! Help To Work for More Local Food in Schools and Hungry Bellies

I’ll bet you may not have known:

*That more of our farm production in Frederick County goes to commodity crops than produce and local restaurants and consumers?

*That 90% of the food consumed in our county comes from outside Frederick County?

*That Frederick County Public Schools nutritionists must plan menus weeks in advance due to complicated federal nutritional guidelines, making it really hard to react to local crop and growing conditions for local produce?

*That kids just won’t eat sweet potatoes if they aren’t used to getting them at home? (which most don’t these days!)

These are just some of the challenges Frederick County’s first Food  Council is tackling.

The group has  been meeting since spring, and is looking at:

*How to get more produce from “local” sources (which may need to be redefined more broadly than just Frederick County due to the low quantity of fruits and vegetables  grown here now);

*How to connect need for food (outside of local food banks, which have been the source until now) with food that is being thrown away

*How to connect local farmers and large buyers to make it economically attractive for Frederick County’s farmers to grow fruits and vegetables

The first big project of the Food Policy Council, under the banner of Community F.A.R.E. (Food Access Resources & Education), a local non-profit dedicated to promote local food to ensure biodiversity, farmland preservation and a connection to local food sources for local consumers.

The groups first project is a Farm to School grant from the US Department of Agriculture. It pairs Community FARE and the Frederick County Public Schools to bring local fresh food to five Title I elementary schools in Frederick—Lincoln, Waverley, Monocacy, Hillcrest and North Frederick.  It will focus on connecting farmers as potential suppliers; aligning nutritious habits in already existing curriculum; and encouraging school gardens. “Kids don’t understand where our food is coming from; when they grow it, they will eat it,” said Alysia Feurer, the grant manager..

Community FARE is looking for parents and local citizens to serve on an advisory group for the grant. If you are interested, contact Alysia here.

There are other focus groups of the Food Council that have met a few times to discuss various polkcy issues, and are looking for more members and leaders: Agricultural EconomicsLocal Food Access and Food Education.

 

For more info click here.

 

 

Frederick County On-Farm Compost Amendment

A zoning amendment allowing acceptance of food scraps on permitted farms in the agriculture zone, a change proposed to existing zoning code to solve obstacles to expansion of composting in Frederick County, was recently supported by Frederick County’s Solid Waste Advisory Committee (SWAC).
The proposed zoning amendment, which has been discussed for months by the Frederick County Planning and Zoning Dept., must still be introduced as County Council legislation and follow the process for zoning amendments before it can be adopted.
Currently, food scrap composting can take place on agricultural land under 5,000 square feet. The proposed amendment creates two levels: permitted acceptance of food scrap with no commercial sales in the ag zone between 5,000 square feet and five acres; or acceptance by Special Use Permit in the agriculture zone above 5 acres but no more than 10 acres, with commercial sales allowed.
Other proposed conditions include:
*no composting in the floodplain and a required setback of 25 feet from floodplain and 50 feet from streambanks
*must be 150 feet from property lines
*must have frontage to a 20-foot-wide paved road and at the discretion of the county, a commercial/industrial entrance
*a vehicle circulation plan and turning radius plan
*A log book of received material that can be inspected at any time by the Zoning Administrator
*must be incorporated into composting within 24 hours and avoid nuisance, dust and detectable noise from other properties
Facilities would still be expected to meet all state permitting regulations for Tier 2 composting.