COSA Briefing: Food Forests in San Antonio
New report, recommendations suggests major gains through expanding food forests and urban agriculture. If you’ve ever caught yourself thinking things like,
New report, recommendations suggests major gains through expanding food forests and urban agriculture.
If you’ve ever caught yourself thinking things like, ‘Man, San Antonio passed this Climate Action Plan back in 2019 and hasn’t done jack,” here’s a meeting for you.
On Thursday, critical findings about the benefits of “food forests” and urban farms (think food production, green space protection, cooling that heat island, flood mitigation, etc.) are being shared at the City of San Antonio’s Community Health, Environment, and Culture Committee. The report, Vibrant Land: The Benefits of Food Forests and Urban Farms in San Antonio is a collaborative work involving contributors from The Natural Capital Project at Stanford University, Food Policy Council of San Antonio, and Ecognosis.
Exploring three established and emerging food forests in San Antonio’s Districts 3 and 5, the authors conclude that up to 850,000 pounds of fresh food could be produced per year at those sites, of particular benefit for those receiving food assistance. At “full conversation” of “all available, publicly owned, underutilized natural lands” to food forests or urban farms (a scenario marked by the authors as “unlikely” and a “hypothetical”) would (at least theoretically) deliver transformational impact, producing an estimated 1 billion pounds of food annually while feeding more than 1.5 million people (roughly San Antonio’s population).
Expanding food forests, particularly, could also help mitigate the impact of urban heat island, sequester more world-heating carbon, and mitigate (to a degree) flooding, while increasing green space access, among other co-benefits.
Staff from the City of San Antonio’s offices of Sustainability, Innovation, and Metro Health supported the development of the report.
Deceleration expects three specific proposals on Thursday, including:
- Integrate food forests into Parks and Recreation and Public Works managed lands (and expand them annually), including in vacant lots, flood plains, and undeveloped park space.
- Expand an existing City “tool shed” program to make more tools available to residents.
- Lease a minimum of 3 publicly-owned lots for urban farm use.
While this briefing by John Peterek, assistant to the City Manager, and Brian Dillard, chief innovation officer, Office of Innovation, in the City Hall Council Briefing Room, is informational only, it is a milestone for grassroots organizing pointing the way to potentially watershed policy advances in the city.
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San Antonio City Hall
100 Military Plaza #4, San Antonio, TX 78205