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It isn’t difficult to get behind the local food movement. Who can argue with cutting big agriculture out of the picture, reducing the cost and carbon footprint of transportation, or keeping more money in the local economy? Who doesn’t like their food fresh, ecological, and economical? Even if we all agree with the concept, however, the particulars are by no means obvious.

Should land be set aside for urban agriculture? Where? How much? For what crops (or animals)? What regulations should govern rooftop gardens? Should chickens be allowed in backyards? Should bees? Under what conditions? As sustainability shifts from buzzword to policy, these and many other questions need to be asked, and answered, by as many citizens as possible.

We at Laurel Park Management encourage all Sarasotans to educate themselves and each other, to engage in conversation, to imagine what steps might be taken to ensure a truly sustainable Sarasota. In that spirit, this blog will feature a variety of posts in the coming months about food, energy, transportation, jobs, and other topical issues. We’ll call the series Sustainable Sarasota, because, well, what else would we call it?

To kick things off, we’d like to call your attention to a meeting this Friday, December 17, of the Sarasota Food Policy Council (details below). Who or what is the Sarasota Food Policy Council, you ask?

The Sarasota Food Policy Council or SFPC (formerly called the Sarasota Agriculture Policy Counci) is implementing the model of a food policy council by bring together stakeholders from diverse food-related sectors to examine how the food system is operating and to develop recommendations on how to improve it.  To this end, the membership of the SFPC  is an inclusive group representing the community foodshed of Sarasota County (for example, small and large farmers, ranchers, horticulture, ag suppliers, consumers, organic farmers, grower associations, environmental groups, farmers markets, food industry and venders, etc) and welcomes new members who practively want to collaborate.”

The residents of Sarasota County foresee a sustainable agriculture that is capable of meeting the needs of the current generation of farmers while leaving equal or better opportunities for their future generations and for new farmers. Sustainable agriculture provides economically profitable, environmentally sound and socially responsible opportunities that will reduce the ecological footprint of Sarasota County.”

The meeting on Friday will address initiative related to obesity, with solution based on local, community foodshed projects and policies. Time: 9:30 to 11:30 am. Place: Green Room, Sarasota County Extension, 6700 Clark Road. Visit the website of the SFPC for more information.