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Friday, July 30, 2010

Food Security in Harrisburg

We had a lively discussion last night about food. Our current system of food growing (herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers), food harvesting (diesel-powered machinery), delivery (diesel-powered trucks) and distribution (more diesel-powered trucks) relies heavily on fossil fuels and very long supply chains (grapes from Chile, oranges from South Africa, etc.). What happens when (not IF) those fuels become expensive and scarce?

Below are the notes showing the basic issues and possible solutions to help Harrisburg become more food secure.
(text formatting didn't hold, so indents are only imaginary. sorry.)


Transition Harrisburg
July 29, 2010

Question asked of the group: What will a sustainable Harrisburg look like?

Food Security (Open Space discussion at Ngozi Studio, Harrisburg)

Issues with current food situation

1. Production dependent on cheap fuel
2. Distribution dependent on cheap fuel
3. Inequality (no equal access & no equal cost)
4. Loss of family farms
5. Soil quality and safety degraded
6. Water quality and safety degraded
a. Riparian (water edge) destruction
b. Chesapeake Bay impact
7. Food quality and safety degraded

Possible remedies for a more food-secure Harrisburg

1. Restore six neighborhood farmers' markets
a. Horse-drawn wagons with local fruit & veggies for sale existed up to 1960; trucked local food continued until 1963
2. Define "local" sources
a. Bike/walk 30 miles per day + meeting food producer from same distance away = 60 mile radius
(local defined by no access to cheap fossil fuels)
b. 48,000 people in Greater Harrisburg area
c. 1.2 million people in 10-county area
3. Recapture lost farmland within city limits
a. Deed searches for Sherriff Sale in September, to make sure land/house is free & clear of liens, etc.
b. Plant fruit trees to clean soil of toxic metals; compost leaves (where metals accumulate) with mushrooms (which remove
toxins), and compost cleaned leaves under trees (to close nutrient cycle)
4. Reinhabit city center to free up suburbia for farming
a. Avoid over-burdening support systems (water, sewer) with too many people
5. Eat seasonally and use energy-efficient greenhouses and grow cold-tolerant foods
6. Intensive city farming, including vertical farming
7. City and farms interlinked, like fingers of two hands, keeping food sources within walking distance from all areas
8. Neighborhood farms (i.e., Hall Manor) for very local production
a. Italian Lake as greywater treatment area?
(1) Resources: PSU, King's Gap Master Gardeners, local experts
9. Suburbs turned into eco-villages or single-house (McMansion) community
10. Appropriate zoning laws
a. Small animal husbandry (chickens, rabbits)
b. Experimental structures (shipping containers, straw bale, cob, others)
c. Mixed-use zoning (neighborhood stores, non-polluting businesses, etc.)
d. Rooftop gardens and white/relective paint on roofs
11. Extended families in one house
a. Help handicapped access food/grow food
b. Resources: Meals on Wheels, retirees
c. Storytelling to connect neighbors/neighborhoods
12. Miscellaneous resources
a. Green For All (Van Jones)
b. Boys & Girls Club in Harrisburg
c. Green Party
d. Green Drinks

Next meetings: Thursday, August 12, 7 ro 8 pm at picnic pavilion (and greenhouses) in Reservoir Park
Thursday, August 26, 7 to 8 pm at The Midtown Scholar(?), with Charles Eisenstein (Gift Circle participation)


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