A few weeks back, a group of employees at the Prince George’s Planning Department, gave personal reflections on Roots in Farming: Farm Experiences from the M-NCPPC Family” as a part of the workplace professional development and lecture series. The purpose of the discussion was share our collective experience around the food system, while integrating these experiences with our daily work.
It’s always fun for me to share my personal stories, because my family is from the County in which I work. The projects we research, the images we pull from historical archives, are often places that I am intimately familiar with and hold ancestral value to me. I love it when I can share photographs of my Great-Great Grandfather, Robert Harrod Jr. and images of the land that he owned on Sheriff Road.
Of course, my presentation focused a lot on the impact of zoning regulations on the food system. As planners, we are responsible for protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public. However, as with any decision that is made, there are always trade-offs, which can create unintended consequences. In Prince George’s County, some of these consequences have created communities where it is physically impossible to access grocery stores or fresh food without using a car (even if the grocery store is less than a half-mile away from your home); encroached upon and removed healthy viable farmland and replaced them with large-single family homes; and made it difficult for the average individual to grow their own fruits and vegetables. But, the tide has turned in the County. Recent legislation by lawmakers; planning efforts by the Planning Department; and collective civic engagement by organizations like the Food Equity Council and the Prince George’s Health Action Coalition is working to remedy some of these ills.
Checkout the presentation and give me your thoughts! What is food policy to you?