The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that Cortland, NY is one of 16 communities selected to participate in Local Foods, Local Places (LFLP), a federal initiative that helps communities reinvest in their neighborhoods and improve quality of life as they develop the local food economy. Through LFLP, a team of agricultural, environmental, public health and regional economic development experts will work directly with Seven Valleys Health Coalition, the City of Cortland and other community leaders to support the intersection between local agriculture, food access, and improvements in the health of Cortland.
Hunger, agritourism, connecting farmers with food pantries, farm to school programs, a year-round, indoor farmers' market and commercial kitchen, increased urban agriculture, and use of SNAP and WIC benefits to purchase healthy local foods are some of the priorities the Cortland Food Project is hoping to discuss at the LFLP planning sessions scheduled for July 30th and 31st in Cortland.
“We decided to apply for Local Foods, Local Places so the process can help the Cortland Food Project committee bring activities and ideas already underway together, filling in gaps we may be overlooking, especially as we target the City of Cortland as a smaller focus area,” said Susan Williams, Project Manager for Seven Valleys Health Coalition.
Mayor Brian Tobin commented that, “Although the plan may need to focus on urban agriculture as it is a City of Cortland initiative, there is also potential for ripple effects of what we learn through this process spreading throughout the County and region.” Tobin also sees the project as a “natural fit with all of the community development work happening in the City with the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, NYS Brownfield Opportunity Area initiative and recent EPA award to Cortland for Brownfield planning”.
“The Cortland Food Project committee is a countywide effort which recognizes that supporting local agriculture is helpful as an economic development tool but we are also interested in increasing access to fresh, local healthy foods for local residents,” Williams said. “We are blessed here in Cortland County with expansive agricultural lands containing quality soils and plentiful, clean water. We recognize we cannot take that bounty for granted. We must act to protect and even improve it.”
In a federal press release regarding LFLP, Administrator Scott Pruitt was quoted as saying, “America’s farmers and ranchers are some of the nation’s first environmentalists. We look forward to helping our community partners develop local food enterprises that support local farmers, improve public health, protect the environment, and grow local economies.”
The 16 Local Foods, Local Places communities were chosen from more than 75 applicants with Cortland being the only awardee in New York State in2018. Since its launch in 2014, LFLP has helped 78 communities across the country develop local food enterprises, such as farmers markets, community gardens and cooperative grocery stores, that improve environmental, economic, and health outcomes.
For more information about Local Foods, Local Places: https://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/local-foods-local-places
For more information about LFLP communities selected in 2018: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2018-05/documents/2018_summary_report_05-21-18-508.pdf
For more information about the Cortland Food Project and the LFLP initiative, including how to register to attend the workshop in July, contact Seven Valleys Health Coalition at (607) 756-4198 or email@example.com