Episode 5: Building Healthy, Local Food Systems

Original Air Date: 6/30/11, 7:30 p.m., KCPT
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Watch the complete fifth episode below

Increasingly the region's residents are looking for better access to fresh, local food, and showing an interest in producing and selling food closer to home. This is a result of a growing awareness of the health, environmental and economic benefits of buildSing a sustainable local food system.

Many local governments also recognize these sustainable benefits and are responding with a range of actions and planning activities. Examples include innovative land-use ordinances that support urban and rural agricultural practices, new resources for community gardening, incentives for retail businesses that sell healthy food, and opportunities for local producers to sell in markets and other local outlets.

This episode will take you to the Ivanhoe neighborhood in Kansas City, Mo., where residents are not only growing community gardens and urban orchards but also operating food stands to sell their products in what is recognized as a food desert. You'll see how a Juniper Gardens project in Kansas City, Kan., is helping refugees use farming techniques to develop viable business plans while improving access to fresh, healthy food in the urban core. And you'll visit one of more than 100 local schoolyard gardens where school children are becoming more connected to fresh, healthy food, and learning where food comes from and why that matters.

Urban Farming

The first segment of this episode starts by taking a tour of someof our local farms and food producers; it's a diverse group of farmers who are growing food in our neighborhoods and producing crops that feed the community. From backyards to empty lots, these folks are doing their part to improve our local food system.

Featured in this segment:

Improving Access in Food Deserts

Farmers’ markets are just one way communities are trying to make healthy food more available in food deserts—areas where it is difficult to even find fresh produce. If you watched the episode, you probably saw the animated food map showing where residents don’t have convenient access to grocery stores or farmers markets (If not, watch the online video by clicking in the window above, or click HERE). The big problem with food deserts is that residents are often left with unhealthy food options, such as convenience stores and fast food. 

This feature looks at some of the communities and programs taking big steps to make fresh, healthy food more available in food deserts:  

In-Studio Interview with Gretchen Kunkel and Beth Low

There’s a lot that goes into ensuring that healthy, sustainable and affordable food is readily available to all — in fact there is an entire coalition made up of individuals, organizations, businesses and governments. Here to shed light on those challenges and opportunities is Beth Low, Executive Director of the Greater Kansas City Food Policy Coalition, and Gretchen Kunkel, Executive Director of KC Healthy Kids.

The Greater Kansas City Food Policy Coalition, with the support of MARC, is encouraging residents across the region to complete a survey designed to assess their access to healthy food, as well as their attitudes about food and eating. The survey can be found online in both English and Spanish. Paper copies of the survey, in English or Spanish, can be requested by calling MARC at 816-474-4240.

The responses to the survey will help the Food Policy Coalition determine what the region’s challenges and opportunities are to providing region-wide access to diverse food choices, and how those challenges can be addressed. The survey is part of a yearlong study of the Kansas City metro area’s food system.

Growing the Next Generation of Farmers: Schoolyard Gardens

We may be in the middle of the breadbasket, but most of us are generations removed from the family farm and many of our region’s youth have never seen an actual vegetable grow.  Kansas City Community Gardens works with more than 100 schools in its schoolyard garden program, possibly growing the next generation of farmers.

This story looks at two different schools in the metro:
Ridgeview Elementary, in Olathe, Kan.
Hogan Prep H.S., in Kansas City, Mo.