Urban development has expanded into the fertile agricultural lands around Kansas City.
There are fewer small and medium-sized farms and more large farm businesses that control multiple steps along the food production chain.
There are fewer farmers, and fewer people making important decisions about the types and quality of the food we eat.
We need farmers to grow food in our region, and we need local people to buy it.
A strong local food system keeps revenue in our community and provides opportunities for small and mid-sized agribusiness to develop and expand.
If we have locally produced foods, factors such as rising fuel prices may have a lesser impact on our residents.
Our region is more insulated from food safety issues involving global and national food sources if we produce more of our own food.
Agriculture is an important part of our economy in the global marketplace.
In 2007, agricultural crops and food products worth $2.5 billion made up 38% of foreign exports from Greater Kansas City.
Americans consume more than $600 billion of food annually, but only about 7% of local food dollars stay in most local communities.
Produce in the average U.S. grocery store travels nearly 1,500 miles from the farm where it was grown.
Small and medium-sized farms often try alternative ways of growing food that may lead to more sustainable practices.
Local farms can also grow “heirloom” crop varieties that are too fragile for long-distance transportation or mass production.
What’s fresh in Kansas City
- SPRING - asparagus, lettuce, beets, onions, peas, rhubarb
- SUMMER - tomatoes, blueberries, sweet peppers, green beans, garlic, sweet corn
- FALL - apples, broccoli, okra, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, hot peppers
- WINTER - potatoes, winter squash, popcorn, turnips, spinach
Balanced food system:
- Urban gardeners bring the farm to the city and offer easy ways for city kids and adults to learn about food production.
- Small-sized rural and suburban farms grow a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, meat, dairy, and honey, and they often sell their unique products directly to consumers at farmer’s markets where they can respond to buyers’ needs.
- Big rural farms provide the backbone of the food system, producing fewer types of crops but enough to meet the nation’s need.
A key goal of the Greater Kansas City Food Policy Coalition is to increase the volume of foods that are produced within 250 miles of Kansas City and to increase the purchase of those foods by local consumers and institutions.
- Identify and protect urban, suburban and surrounding rural lands that should be preserved for agricultural use.
- Modify zoning regulations to allow for the development of vacant lots and other underutilized lands for urban farming and community gardens.
- Offer property tax breaks for small-scale agricultural production and food gardening, or land-certified organic farms.
- Support investments in regional food processing and distribution facilities to encourage job growth and strengthen the food system.
- Provide additional funding support for educational classes on topics such as cooking, canning, and gardening.
- Support the continued growth of Greater Kansas City’s role in the burgeoning economic cluster of animal sciences and food tourism along the I-70 corridor.
How You Can Help
To really grow our food system, we must develop the infrastructure and industries that help local farmers work successfully.