How Columbus Is Using Smart Cities Challenge and Transit to Reduce High Infant Mortality Rate 

A very important story that illustrates how the social determinants can undermine any desire by individuals to access healthy living strategies. As many enterprising organizers have learned, simply adding a farmers market deep within  a food desert does not solve all of the nutritional problems faced by those residents. Additionally, the fact that markets do well when sitting on the “edge” of two or more communities (even with one being a food desert) and can therefore encourage bridging among the many residents has not been tested enough by planners or food system leaders.
As someone who was a community organizer in Columbus many years ago, I lived and worked in some of the very underserved areas described in this article and saw the effect on my neighbors and even on myself in those years. No doubt in my mind that the “mobile” in the term mobile markets in some cases should be focused on adding public transportation and shuttles from agencies to functioning markets that can offer a wide group of amenities to those new shoppers.

Finally, anyone who has heard my presentation on the “eras” of farmers markets which concludes with me asking those attending what the next era will be focused on will understand how gratified I am to see planners and regional governments include farmers markets in their strategies. Maybe this is the start of a beautiful friendship…

Crucially, Columbus wants to offer universal transit cards, which riders could use to pay for public transit as well as taxis, ride-hailing and car-sharing options. Kiosks would be installed at key locations, which would allow riders with (or without) credit cards or smartphones to add funds, call rides, and access real-time transit information. The city may also subsidize trips by private service providers like Uber and Car2Go. (A report released this week by the Center for American Progress highlighted this approach as a boon for low-income riders.) This could go a long way to address gaps in first mile/last mile connections, which can be a huge hurdle to low-income citizens getting the services they need.

The city is hoping a new BRT line and smarter technology can help families access crucial services.

Source: How Columbus Is Using Smart Cities Challenge and Transit to Reduce High Infant Mortality Rate – CityLab

S.F. property owners to get tax break from creating urban farms

Under the new law, the five-year contract stays with the property even if it’s sold, but if an owner wants to get out of it they can pay back taxes and interest. San Francisco’s ordinance limits the tax savings of individual property owners to $25,000 per year; if the savings are higher, an official review is necessary. City officials in Sacramento, Fresno, San Jose and San Diego have expressed interest, but haven’t yet passed the necessary local legislation.

Los Angeles is close to doing that, and Clare Fox of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council estimates there are 8,600 parcels within Los Angeles city limits that qualify.

How nice to see so many benefits listed for growing food:
“It’s about food security and food access, but it’s also about transforming blighted vacant places that are prone to illegal dumping into community places,” she said.
“It’s a way to beautify the neighborhood and stabilize real estate values. Plus, there are the environmental benefits.”

S.F. property owners to get tax break from creating urban farms – SFGate.

Protestors rally in support of Golden Gate farmers market

FYI- this is Florida and not northern California..

A few issues that I would like more information about from this story: one, if the market and the county had communicated in the past and two, how many local people think that flea market goods have too much room at this market and if they agree that a farmers market should not contain those goods. I’m not advocating for flea market goods at markets (my own markets were very strict about any non-food goods) but whether it is true that flea market goods are taking up most of the space in this market and whether those flea market goods have a place in farmers markets should be up to the local community, which certainly includes the municipality in question, but doesn’t mean the commissioners should decide these issues alone. It is important to note that in many cases across the Americas, staple markets have a place in many communities and can be a very useful type of market for small rural communities or for immigrant communities.

Lastly, the rule to only allow open-air markets to operate only 28 days per year seems awfully restrictive. I wonder when that was passed in Florida and how many counties have that rule? And is it to restrict flea markets but ends up restricting farmers markets too? I do know from my pals in farmers markets in Florida that the use of the term farmers market is all over the place across the state; resellers use the term in normal practice and of course, in a state like Florida that has massive agricultural exports, small farms and direct marketing are not likely to be valued as highly as in other states. Of course, California does have a thriving farmers market system, but also has a very different political climate and history.

For all of these issues, this is why I advocate for formal rules that allow for constant transparency and clarity in market governance. Rules that explain why, when, how and for whom a market operates can help reduce these issues before they get to crisis stage. In addition, this is also why I hope Farmers Market Coalition and their partners are successful in building a simple and usable data collection system; If all markets could gather a few comparable metrics each year, these issues might be more easily diverted or at least, add facts to lessen a charged situation.

The controversy started when Collier County commissioner Tom Henning used the word “gypsy” to describe vendors at the Golden Gate Community Center market. Commissioner Henning wanted to protect a business that complained the farmers market shoppers were taking up his parking spots….
While county commission retracted their initial vote to shut the market down, their problems aren’t over.

County laws say open-air markets can only operate 28 days a year. But vendors at the farmers market want to stay open all year. A petition with 1,300 signatures will be presented at a county commission meeting on Tuesday.
this from another
Taylor said the county’s issue is that it’s not a farmer’s market, but more of a flea market and it appears to be disrupting local businesses.

Protestors rally in support of Golden Gate farmers market – WBBH News for Fort Myers, Cape Coral & Naples, Florida.

Farm Shares | Grow Dat Youth Farm

A recent success story in New Orleans for urban farming and school-aged youth, Grow Dat has sold their produce through at their City Park farmstand, at farmers markets, through online ordering/home delivery services and now with this CSA method. GDYF is a well-regarded project that has produced very real outcomes in a challenging funding and food environment. The success of Grow Dat’s project work along with their constant advocacy for urban farmers has truly risen all boats.

Farm Shares | Grow Dat Youth Farm.

Urban Quality of Life and Green Placemaking | Sustainable Cities Collective

Perhaps the most striking finding of the study is the fact that happiness was more strongly correlated to green space than socioeconomic status. Participants living on blocks with 10% fewer green areas than the average were more likely to report stress and depression. Following this logic, a ‘poor’ resident living in an area with more trees and open space would report being happier than a ‘rich’ resident living in an area without access to green space.

Another study, this one by the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, uses 18 years of survey data from over 10,000 participants across the United Kingdom. Its analysis shows a strong correlation between access to green space, self-reported well-being, and even physical health. The researchers even found that the sensations associated with living close to green space yield similar feelings and levels of satisfaction to getting a new job or getting married.

Urban Quality of Life and Green Placemaking | Sustainable Cities Collective.

In the U.S., a Quick Walk to the Store Is a Rare Thing Indeed

Another report to share with food communities as an indicator of the positive changes we can make if we can embed our initiatives in neighborhoods.

“After you pass Seattle, ranked 13th with just 31 percent access, no other city in the U.S. cracks 30 percent, and the bottom 22 cities of the U.S. top 50 by population all have 10 percent or fewer residents within a five-minute walk to the store.

The numbers paint a picture of a dramatically divided nation, one in which even residents of the nation’s largest cities rarely have quick access via active transportation to the ingredients for fresh and healthy meals.

It’s just one more way of measuring how development defines our lives and our choices in ways that we are only beginning to understand.”
Link to story

Grazing with goats in the Crescent City

Goats for grazing is a super idea for the many open, untended sites we have in New Orleans and throughout the U.S. This is a simple fundraising idea for an New Orleans entrepreneur that wants to use goats to graze public and private green space. She has already been contracted to use goats on a park in the city (Brechtel Park) starting in 2014 and needs support to get her business prepared for the work ahead.
I see she also sees this as public art, which I’d have to hear more about to understand I guess, but the goat grazing is by itself an idea that I can certainly support. Maybe you can too?


…To comment further on the public art point, I’d rather this be seen chiefly as a serious farming and open space issue that helps urban people see that livestock can safely serve many roles in the larger natural survival loop, even in our ordered urban environment.