We will establish an awareness of agriculture in and around the city as important to both food security and open space preservation. We tend to think of farming around cities as a temporary use that disappears when development takes over. Yet our city includes rural land that is likely to remain in agricultural use. This gives us the unique ability to integrate farming into the structure of the city. We can build public awareness and appreciation of agriculture’s environmental, economic, open space, and food security benefits and provide assistance to farmers that address the challenges of agriculture within the corporate limits of a big city.

We will maintain the ability of agricultural operations to exist and thrive at different scales, from large farms to small urban gardens. Land use policies should support and encourage farming and gardening activities in rural parts of Oklahoma City and on small parcels in the city. The directions and policies contained in the Land Use Plan and the sustainokc element cluster rural residential development and discourage the spread of very low-density residential acreages into agricultural areas, preserving the integrity of farms. Similarly, we should discourage conversion of land designated as Prime Farmland to non-agricultural use, and ensure that these uses support agriculture and reinforce the rural quality of the landscape. Within the city, we should encourage use of vacant or underused sites for raising food, at least on a temporary basis, and identify sites where more permanent urban gardens may be established on civic land.

We will maximize healthy food options for all neighborhoods and citizens. We cannot require people to eat certain kinds of foods or restrict access to the wide range of items that the food industry produces. However, people should not be forced into unhealthy diets by gaps in the food supply system or lack of knowledge. Our strategies addressing the food system should follow two paths. On the supply side, we should increase the number of places that provide affordable healthy food options in under-served neighborhoods. On the demand side, we should increase awareness and knowledge of citizens about diet, health, and practical ways that they can incorporate healthy eating habits into their routine. 

A HEALTHY FOOD AWARENESS CAMPAIGN

An effective and far-reaching campaign that introduces people to the benefits of healthy eating and makes healthy food options available and affordable to all can help develop a market that the private and community sectors can economically satisfy. Elements of this campaign may include:

  • Strategies for selection and preparation of healthy food that is cost-and time-competitive with manufactured food.
  • Selecting and preparing nutritious food for use in schools, recreation centers, senior centers, technical/trade schools, farmers markets, and anywhere people might go to learn.
  • Linking training for unemployed people and welfare-to-work programs with opportunities for living wage jobs in urban food-related businesses.
  • “Edible Schoolyards”, a school-based program that integrates nutrition and gardening to connect healthy food choices and locally grown fresh produce.
  • Farm-to-school programs.
  • Farm-to-institution programs that offer healthy food choices to hospitals, universities, prisons, and businesses.