In 2005, in the face of rapidly increasing land values, urban sprawl, and farmland development pressures, the forward-thinking Mouans-Sartoux town council purchased an old farm estate that was slated for development, and has since designated over 100 hectares of land in the area as protected farmland. The municipality also set a goal that 100% of the food served to children in the region’s three public schools should be local and organic. To help meet this ambitious target, the local council updated their procurement policies to make it easier for small producers in the area to meet school catering needs. But even after changing these policies, the supply of local produce was insufficient to meet the town’s needs. So the town took matters into their own hands by growing their own vegetables on the old estate purchased a few years earlier. In 2010 the town hired its first “municipal farmer,” invested in farming and storage equipment, and officially launched its régie agricole municipale or “municipal farming service.” By 2015 the municipally-run farm produced 85% of the organic vegetables used in local school meals. The program reduces food waste by coordinating school menus with what’s available on the farm, and by processing and storing produce harvested during school holidays. In addition to fresh produce, the municipal farm provides opportunities for children and adults to learn about farming and where their food comes from, including a pedagogical plot which was created specifically for beneficiaries of the local food bank. To learn more, visit the program’s website (in French) or read the relevant entries in these reports from Access to Land and the Transnational Institute. Photo from Wikimedia Commons; CC BY-SA 4.0
The Nilgiris district in India announced a far-ranging ban on plastic products, effective January 2018. The ban encompasses the usual suspects – Styrofoam, polypropylene (i.e. non-woven) bags, and single-use plates and cups, many of which have been banned since 2001 – but it goes the extra mile and also includes plastic gloves, silver foil covers, plastic and foil gift wrap, laminated brown paper, laminated bakery boxes, cling wrap, and plastic water bottles below one liter in volume among the banned items. Plastic waste accumulation has become a huge problem in this hilly and popular tourist destination, and a successful effort to reduce waste here could be exemplary for other regions (like Ladakh) which are struggling with the same problem. Read more about this policy in the Deccan Chronicle and Times of India.
In July 2018, Todd Township in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania adopted a Community Bill of Rights ordinance banning industrial agriculture. Under this law, all animals must be owned by local citizens and the majority of farm revenue must stay within the township. Residents, together with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), created the bill to protect the town’s water supply, environment, rural landscape, and family farming culture from corporate farms. See the CELDF press release for more information.
Vauban is a neighborhood in Freiburg, Germany, that is often cited as one of the best examples of sustainable urban living in the world. Built in the late 1990s on the site of an abandoned French military base, Vauban was envisioned from the beginning as a “sustainable model district,” and built using a mixture of sustainable technology and common sense to serve the needs of both people and the planet. To learn more, visit The World’s Most Successful Model for Sustainable Urban Development?. Photo by Tom Brehm (CC-BY-NC 2.0)