Speak UP: Protect Convenient Access to Local Foods!
This petition made change with 650 supporters!
Now is the time to Speak UP about convenient access to local food options in the Town of Blacksburg! Let your council members know how you feel about your right to access local foods easily!!
The Town of Blacksburg is creating a zoning ordinance to allow and provide for the existence of various farmers’ markets in Blacksburg. The purpose of the new zoning ordinance will allow the Town of Blacksburg to maintain regulations over all farmers’ markets.
Every local and wholesome food that adds value to our community should have an easy pathway to our tables!!!
Current Debate concerning the new zoning being created:
1. How should the term Farmer’s Market be defined for the purpose of the proposed zoning ordinance?
2. To what degree should the Use & Design Standards control the small business aspects of a Farmer’s Market? Especially when you consider the zoning will require all FMs to be an established LLC., nonprofit, or co-op and governed by a Market Manager or Coordinator?
Town of Blacksburg’s proposed zoning ordinance currently defines Farmer’s Markets as follows:
· Reference to a public market (managed by the Town & on town owned property) and private market (managed by a governing LLC, nonprofit, or co-op & on private land)
· Both public and private farmer’s market definitions will be exactly the same with the exception of its location and who it is managed by.
Town of Blacksburg’s proposed zoning ordinance defines Farmer’s Market as follows (pulled from last staff draft):
“the open air sale of agricultural products such as vegetables, fruits, herbs, grains, mushrooms, flowers, potted or bedded plants, honey, meat, dairy, or eggs directly to the public by a group of farmers or producers that occurs on a regular basis (once per week or more for a minimum of 26 weeks in a calendar year) on land (Town or private) owned. Handcrafted products (wooden furniture, textiles) or value added products (jam, beeswax candles) or other handmade food products (baked goods) are allowed but the purveyors of these goods may not compromise the majority of vendors. To be considered a Farmer’s Market, ALL agricultural products and handcrafted products are to be grown, raised, or produced by the vendors within a 50 mile radius of the Town of Blacksburg.” (Zoning Draft, 2/24/2014, Town of Blacksburg)
What this means for YOU as a consumer:
· NO vendor or farmer will be able to sell ANY product or good that they themselves did NOT grow, raise, or produce themselves.
· NO PRODUCT OR GOOD will be allowed that was produced or grown outside of 50 miles (limits convenient access for all products currently NOT locally available within 50 miles).
You may wonder: What is at risk?
The following lists several items at risk in our community:
· Perennial fruits of all kinds: peaches, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, currants, cherries, grapes, apricots, plums, pears & Asian pears, apples
· Cheeses: Cow milk cured and fresh cheeses; goat fresh and cured cheeses
· Sweeteners: Honey, Maple Syrup, Sorghum Molasses
· Specialty Pastured Meats: especially sausages, lamb products
· Sweet Corn
· Off-season Tomatoes (i.e. greenhouse or hydroponic)
· Off season sweet potatoes & other root crops that can come from NC soils w/in less than 100 miles
· Value added products like pickles, jams, pasta sauce, pasta
While a few of these products migt be available within 50 miles, there are limited growers of some products that would make it very difficult to provide local to a large number without expanding the radius to local and reducing restrictions on how they got sold at markets.
There are many, many more products that will never see life in our community or be gone for good if we place barriers to how they can get here and be sold. All Farmer’s Markets should be allowed to determine how they get local foods into their market and to determine and control the vendors they choose to sell at their market.
Purpose of The Town of Blacksburg zoning regulations in general are designed to adequately control negative impacts on:
· public safety
· noise issues
· nuisance levels
· numbers that can gather
· frequency of events that can be held
The new zoning ordinance currently being proposed by the Town of Blacksburg will address three parts in order to put “adequate” regulations in place.
Three Parts of the Town of Blacksburg proposed Farmer’s Market Zoning Ordinance include:
1. Definition of term Farmer’s Market; purpose is to clarify what type of entity or operation is being referenced by the term farmer’s market.
2. Permitted Uses; purpose is to define the use-based zoning area/s a farmer’s market can locate.
3. Use & Design Standards; purpose is to define specific business operations of a farmer’s market. (this is often what a business license does, but can be embedded in a zoning ordinance of this type)
The new zoning ordinance has been drafted over several weeks (process began in December). This past month it went before the EQ Committee where heated debates continued to surface over a few main points. The draft will now go before the Planning Commission which is expected to hold a small public discussion before it sends the final draft to Town Council. At that time, Town Council will hear from the public and will be making a very critical decision heavily based on public input.
WE URGE YOU TO SPEAK UP!!!
Educate yourself on the issue at hand (further explanation and resources attached below).
· SPEAK UP about your right to choose:
· WHERE you purchase your local food,
· HOW you purchase your local food,
· WHO you purchase it from,
· DEFINE what you consider to be local!
The Community Market Stance:
· Keep the definition simple;
· Ensure the Zoning Ordinance protects our right to convenient access; (expand how local is defined in terms of radius & remove barriers that control who is allowed to sell local products at a farmers market)
· Keep Use & Design Standards aligned to ONLY those things necessary to ensure Town codes are met concerning safety, traffic, noise, nuisance, gathering numbers, and events. All farmers’ markets function as a business entity and the governance of that business should be left to the governing body for that business.
Our Town Council needs your input on this issue and now is the time to ensure we PROTECT OUR RIGHTS TO CONVENIENT ACCESS of local foods in our community.
Please sign this petition to show your support for a more inclusive and broader definition of Farmer’s Market and to state your stance to specific Use & Design Standards (will list specifics to this soon) you do NOT agree with. When you sign the petition we ask that you state the following:
1. Your Name
2. Your location to Blacksburg (Resident of Blacksburg, Resident of ______, live ____miles from Blacksburg)
3. Your opinion on the current Town of Blacksburg proposed definition of Farmer’s Market (stated above); (agree or oppose)
4. We encourage you to state what you would consider local foods.
5. We encourage any additional concerns or input you wish to have about the proposed farmer’s market zoning ordinance.
Please keep your comments concise and to the point. Council needs to be able to read through comments quickly and efficiently. There is a relatively small timeframe, so please keep communication easy to read.
We want to thank everyone in the community who fights for the growth and convenient access of local foods! Thank you for taking time to care about this issue. This is a time to define a high standard—and that standard should embrace all of the community of local foods. That is the mindful thing to do for our future!!
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