Canton village backs establishment of new council to improve county's food system
Friday, June 27, 2014 - 8:58 am

CANTON -- The Canton village Board of Trustees is backing creating of a St. Lawrence County council to develop ways to improve the area’s food system, according to a release from GardenShare.

GardenShare Executive Director Aviva Gold and St. Lawrence University Sustainability Semester student Caeleigh Warburton presented a draft resolution and supporting data to the board May 19. After review by village legal counsel, the resolution was unanimously approved June 14, GardenShare officials say.

The resolution says current needs include widespread food insecurity, which is causing significant health problems and associated costs, and a lack of framework for understanding or envisioning community food security and a stronger agricultural economy for St. Lawrence County policymakers.

It also proposes that a multitude of stakeholders in the Canton and countywide food system are needed to effectively address food-related policy issues.

St. Lawrence County's several layers of government – county legislature, county planning, town and village boards and councils, health departments and development offices, all make decisions and implement policy that affect local agriculture, local food security, and the local food system, Gardenshare members say.

However, none of the entities has a broad food plan or statement or coordinate their actions with the others, according to a release from GardeShare.

The lack of a regional food policy limits the potential for government to address broad goals such as improving access to healthy foods, expanding the presence of storage and processing and distribution facilities in the region, Gardenshare officials say.

A food policy council could help efforts to expand direct market sales to capitalize on the region's burgeoning local food movement, or even improving the quantity and quality of agricultural products grown in the region, they say.

By bringing together a cross-disciplinary group of stakeholders, a council can help bridge this gap and identify ways to address interconnected issues to ensure economic development priorities are supported by our county, town, and municipal governments, according to a prepared statement from Gardenshare.

Canton's resolution is a step toward GardenShare’s effort to obtain broad support from each the county's legislative bodies, members say.

The complete text of the resolution as well as the supporting statements are online at gardenshare.org.

GardenShare is a nonprofit community organization that works to build a North Country where has enough to eat and share; where food choices are healthy for individuals, communities, and the environment.

Info, www.gardenshare.org.