On August 23, 2013, Sustainable Capitol Hill, Capitol Hill EcoDistrict, and Domonique Juleon hosted a discussion on food in our neighborhood. It was exciting to talk about not only the current food system but also what kind of food system we hope to create moving forward.

Below you will find the highlights for each topic covered: Food Economics, Food Equity, Food Policy, and Urban Farming.

With the short amount of time we had, we could only touch on a few topics, but would love to continue to conversation. If you would like to participate in further conversation and action, please join the facebook page.

Also, feel free to peruse the fruit tree map of Capitol Hill. Please note that the fruit on trees on parking strips belong to the adjacent house, so please ask before you pick!

Food Economics

What “food economics” means:

  • Distribution
  • Buying and selling
  • Production
  • Making environmentally sustainable practices
  • economically sustainable
  • Subsidies
  • Influencing how food is grown outside the city
  • Job quality for workers in restaurants and grocery stores

What kinds of food do corner stores carry and can we influence that? Is there a business model for them to carry produce?

Guarantee that someone will buy the corner store groceries before they go bad. Maybe it could be ‘bought’ and given to soup kitchens. Maybe juicers in the neighborhood would want the produce.

What about other waste streams in the food system? Create a market for leftover food from catering or other sources

Externalities of bad food are masked. Externalities make it so good food isn’t too expensive rather bad food is too cheap.

A lot of people have too much money to qualify for food stamps, but not enough money to spend on good food.

Infrastructure for local food has been lost. We might be creating a network that doesn’t make money now, but will be ready when the market changes, e.g. gas prices go up

Make an app for buying and selling food
ubrlocal.com – Food focused trading, swapping, buying
nextdoor.com – information sharing, some trade

CSA programs – the city should work with them to add more box drop locations and coordinate between different CSA’s. Size of the box needs to match sizes of different households or how can small households share a box? Make a map with neighborhood pick up locations.

Sharing economies, shared kitchens, Donations, grants.

Sharing backyards for growing – www.urbangardenshare.org (although it doesn’t seem to be continually updated)

Fruit trees in Cal Anderson Park – maybe around the perimeter.

Grow supplementary food in the city to have more influence in farming community

Have low-paying jobs for disabled people to help grow veggies in yards

Economic Incubators:
SU – starting an outdoor classroom and community kitchen at Broadway and Columbia
Firefly – Ballard community kitchen is a small business incubator
Farestart – expand programs like these to connect folks to food related jobs
Funding to pay people to be urban farmers – business vs community effort
Treat fruit like aluminum cans and glass bottles, pay for collection

Action Tomorrow:

Farm bill education

Facebook page discussion group (include definition of terms)

CAPA – applying for city grant with the Chamber to create events at Cal Anderson to make it safer

Connect affordable housing residents with fruit tree map


Food Equity

What “food equity” means:

Access to food – grocery stores, etc.

Getting fresh produce to food banks

Reframing the conversation – not just foodie

Healthy access to food

Cost of organic here vs abroad

Food in the ideal world:

Healthy choices in schools

Getting rid of subsidies could help make switching to organic fresh produce more affordable and accessible

Increase awareness of marketing – examples include harvest schemes for good stuff

Farmers at schools – educate kids, make healthy available

How does density in the city affect the system.

Food can bring people together, make available to all

Agriculture accessible to community in a central area

How is it made dependable? Consistent? Supply chain?

Red tomato study – http://redtomato.org/resources.php

Address issues in equality in terms of race and poverty

Trust to equity ratio

Barriers to the ideal world:

Overproduction – why put effort in when food is cheap, easy?


Grocery stores that are affordable

Clean Greens nonprofit, but hard to get grants, resources, great program but not funded. Sources are uninterested.

Law against distributing food in parks and recs

Farmers market are currently doubling the amount of food stamps – $10 = $20

Educate how to cook – green plate special, cooking matters. How to use what you grow. Single parents w/ multiple jobs & no time? Culturally appropriate food? Healthy food?

Connect food bank with gardens growing – empower

Eat Local – frozen fresh food, currently too expensive, but if it could be more affordable for people who don’t have time or money

Distribute list of these resources to practitioners and people who work with populations in greatest need.

Disease (Diabetes, etc) & food education.

Food Policy

What it means:

  • Farm bill
  • Corn lobby
  • Institutional policy – food access
  • Ability to get food

Macro – farm bill
Local – access to food, affordability
Institutional – how can we work with institutions?

What we tell people they should eat vs what food we subsidize

Planting strip regulation – Balancing community safety (falling fruit), maintenance (messy falling fuity), with community needs/wants (access to fresh fruit) – http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/cams/CAM2304.pdf

Some restriction on animals you can raise – http://www.seattle.gov/DPD/Publications/CAM/cam244.pdf

Lack of clarity about what you can grow where

Allowing individuals to do something vs actively running a program

Having the time to make healthy food

Cafeterias at institutions – how can we influence how they work?

How do we continue to support and enhance the City of Seattle Food Policy – http://www.seattle.gov/environment/documents/Seattle_Food_Action_Plan_10-24-12.pdf

Issues of scale – when does regulation prevent small scales, small businesses? How do you restructure it to support those small businesses?

Food permits – food trucks, festival vendors, bicycle vendors, comparison with Portland, racial bias in food, permits for festivals

How do you present a new idea in a way that’s accessible to people?


Urban Farming

What does “urban farming” mean:

questions of Space

scale to food industry levels

farming vs gardening

In an ideal world:

Roof top gardening

Every planting strip has fruit tree

Food forest


Expand p-patch – more access

Unused property to do gardening

Barriers the ideal:

Roof top structures…hydroponics? Aquaponics? Connects back to unused property

General public awareness of the problems with current food systems making it the issue of the

Urban pollutants may contaminate urban produce

Can there be better cost sharing models for urban farmers that build on the CSA model.

Cataloging the community accessible foods – fruit trees, public food forests, etc.

There is potential to use urban farming as education about how to feed people and connecting poeple to food.

Transparent access to food

Buyer/seller urban food – using and expanding online platforms such as ubrlocal.com

What model will work for Urban Farming? How can traditional farming models be adapted to urban settings:

Continue to follow Urban Farming attempts such as: City Grown in Wallingford, Moon Rabbit Farm in Ravenna, and Magic Bean in W. Seattle.

How does urban farming fit in the context of the larger food systems at play?

Supplementary? Too dense to really do real hardcore farming, but outer ring suburbs

Vertical farming?