Growing Interest: Thrive 2050 Planning Brings Renewed Zest for Connecting People with Local Agriculture, Agritourism

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Do you know where your food is grown or how it is produced? In our increasingly global and digital society, it is possible to consume a variety of foods without considering typical growing seasons or cost of production – all while having everything from almonds to zucchini effortlessly delivered to our doorsteps. This convenience – which many of us enjoy regularly due to our busy schedules – comes with a cost of separating ourselves from the story behind our food. In urban and urbanizing areas, this separation can be even more profound as we do not regularly interact with farming or farmland.

While Montgomery County is increasingly urban, it also has a tremendous resource to connect residents with farming … Continue reading

Some Recent Articles & Links

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On Housing

A report from the Brookings Institution: restrictive (read, “exclusionary”) zoning may lead to lower test scores for kids.

“As the nation grapples with the growing gap between rich and poor and an economy increasingly reliant on formal education, public policies should address housing market regulations that prohibit all but the very affluent from enrolling their children in high-scoring public schools in order to promote individual social mobility and broader economic security.”


An analysis by US Today shows the recession accelerated trends towards urbanization.

“The shift to more urban housing development has been growing slowly during the past couple of decades and thanks to the recession and housing crash, this trend has accelerated. It is probable … Continue reading

Eco -logy meets eco -nomy: it all comes down to home.

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Excerpts from David Korten’s “Living Buildings, Living Economies, and a Living Future” from Yes! online, May 18, 2011:

“Integrating multi-purpose buildings into a larger multi-building neighborhood or district system adds opportunities to develop public green spaces, community gardens, edible landscaping, and small-scale poultry and livestock production, as well as natural wetlands and living machine water purification to continuously recycle nutrients, water, and energy.

Integrative projects also create opportunities to balance the utility loads of businesses, which generally have greater energy needs during the day, and residences, which have greater needs during nonbusiness hours. Bringing residences, employment, shopping, and recreation together in close proximity minimizes transportation requirements and facilitates the sharing of autos, bicycles, appliances, and tools, and community connections … Continue reading

Where is the green space for apartment-dwellers?

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If you don’t have a plot of land, you can still grow flowers, herbs, and vegetables. Fern Richardson writes a great blog on container gardens, Life on the Balcony. And Treehugger has put up a synopsis of her recent designs for using pallets as vertical planters.

Plant Chicago: more on the apparent topic of the day.

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Adaptive reuse of existing buildings for agriculture: Plant Chicago – vertical farming and industrial reuse.

Take a quick look at their philosophy in 2 minutes.

Don’t think we’d have any 40-story buildings, but what if we used less and converted … i don’t know … some of our numerous self-storage facilities to vertical farms?

Recent Smart Growth Series Focus on Rural Communities (Part 2 of 2)

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Based on a lecture presenting ICMA’s recent report, “Putting Smart Growth to Work in Rural Communities”, the first part of this synopsis summarized the general goals, scope, challenges, and policy principles for a “smart growth” approach to rural community development. Numerous links to various resources are provided therein. The second part of this synopsis will outline more detailed strategies for rural communities based on smart growth principles.

Strategies to Accomplish Goal 1: Economic Support of Working Lands and Conservation Areas

Ensure viability of a resource economy:

Assess taxes based on current use, rather than at its highest market value; Provide tax credits for conservation; Enact right-to-farm policies; Advocate renewable energy development; Allow value-added farm and forest product processing; and … Continue reading

Recent Smart Growth Series Focus on Rural Communities (Part 1 of 2)

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Representatives from the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and the Environmental Protection Agency recently presented the results of a study, “Putting Smart Growth to Work in Rural Communities”, at the National Building Museum. As we look towards modifications to our zoning laws, it may be useful to summarize some of their findings.

Smart Growth Goals

Economic support of working lands and conservation areas; Investing in assets to make rural towns thrive; and Creating new stable, sustainable neighborhoods and communities.

Defining “Rural”

Simply put, USDA defines rural by what it isn’t – rural areas are not “metropolitan counties”. This course-grain approach, of course, doesn’t help define the differences between and within Montgomery County’s more urban corridors and nodes, its residential … Continue reading