Urban Agriculture Task Force Recommendations Presented to Arlington County Board

  • Task Force presents 9 priority recommendations; total of 27 recommendations.
  • Focus of report on sustainability, health.
  • Report covers government's role, education, soils, local food growing, and food distribution.
  • Urban hens recommended, but not as priority and with two dissenting reports.

Arlington, VA — The Arlington County Board accepted an Urban Agriculture report from its Urban Agriculture Task Force, at work session held Tuesday evening. The report includes 27 recommendations for a Food Action Plan, as well as an inventory of existing food and agriculture programs in Arlington, and a resource list for further research.

“Issues surrounding healthy and sustainable food production, distribution, consumption and disposal impact the lives and livelihoods of Arlingtonians as never before,” said John Vihstadt, chairman of the Urban Agriculture Task Force. “We have tapped the views and expertise of the local community in crafting a range of proposals and look forward to continued citizen engagement on these and other urban agriculture initiatives in the months ahead.”

The Food Action Plan covers a wide range of topics related to urban agriculture, from expanding community gardens and access to farmers markets, to composting and backyard hens.

The Nine Priority Recommendations

The Task Force presented its top priority recommendations:

  1. Establish an ongoing Commission on Urban Agriculture, similar to other County advisory commissions.
  2. Review all county planning documents to ensure that urban agriculture and sustainable food planning are integrated.
  3. Expand availability of community gardens, urban farms, and other urban agriculture initiatives by identifying additional sites across the County.
  4. Strengthen Arlington's Farmers' Markets network by (a) facilitating use of SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits at all market locations and (b) supporting creation of a permanent covered year-round Farmers' Market.
  5. Encourage the establishment of a local food hub, including an online option, to match food producers, distributors and consumers.
  6. Replicate Crystal City BID (Business Improvement District) model for community-supported agriculture (CSA)/farm-to-consumer agriculture.
  7. Leverage libraries, schools, universities, and adult education to bring healthy eating and urban agriculture education to Arlington residents of every age and residential context.
  8. Ensure that urban agriculture education focusing on Arlington schoolchildren is given top priority in any adaptive reuse or repurposing of Reeves historic farmhouse.
  9. Initiate municipal composting system to ensure an effective and ecologically appropriate disposal, reuse, and recycling system for yard waste and other organic materials.

The topic of backyard hens is included in the Food Action Plan, but not as one of the priority recommendations. The Task Force did not achieve consensus on the topic; their Plan includes two minority reports, which present alternative viewpoints and recommendations on the issue of backyard hens.

>>Read the full report or view the Task Force's slide presentation.

Next steps

After the work session, which included a question and answer period, the County Board accepted the report from the task force, and directed the County Manager to conduct a staff review of the recommendations.

About the Urban Agriculture Task Force

In 2012, the Arlington County Board created the Urban Agriculture Task Force, appointing 19 Arlingtonians who represent a broad range of interest groups. The Task Force was tasked with developing a Food Action Plan for Arlington County, tailored to our community's specific needs. Task Force conducted extensive research, including visiting local farms, markets and food establishments.

The Task Force also engaged in community outreach, including hosting an OpenArlington online forum; hosting a booth at the 2012 Arlington County Fair; attending all Arlington farmers markets; hosting three community conversations at Arlington libraries; participating at Latino Roundtable; and meeting with Committee of 100 and other civic organizations.

Task Force members:

  • John Vihstadt, Citizen at Large, Task Force Chair
  • Joan Horwitt, Reevesland Learning Center, Task Force Vice Chair
  • Darnell Carpenter, Arlington County Civic Federation
  • Rosemary Ciotti, Arlington County Planning Commission
  • Lincoln Cummings, Arlington County Commission on Aging
  • Catie Drew, Citizen at Large
  • David Garcia, Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment
  • Saundra Greene, Arlington County Parks and Recreation Commission (resigned October 2012)
  • Darryl Hobbs, Citizen at Large
  • Dennis Jaffe, BRAVO Tenants and Renters Organization
  • Puwen Lee, Arlington Food Assistance Center (appointed October 2012)
  • Amy Maclosky, Arlington Public Schools
  • Conor Marshall, Arlington County Parks and Recreation Commission (appointed November 2012)
  • Charles Meng, Arlington Food Assistance Center (resigned October 2012)
  • Sarah Merservey, Arlington County Environment and Energy Conservation Commission
  • John Moore, health care provider (resigned September 2012)
  • Audrey Morris, Citizen at Large
  • Gay Mount, Arlington Interfaith Council
  • Mike Nardolilli, Northern Virginia Conservation Trust and Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority
  • Joel Thevoz, Main Event Caterers
  • Mary Van Dyke, Virginia Cooperative Extension Leadership Council

Arlington Va., is a world-class residential, business and tourist location that was originally part of the “10 miles square” parcel of land surveyed in 1791 to be the Nation's Capital. Slightly smaller than 26 square miles, it is the geographically smallest self-governing county in the United States, and one of only a handful with the prized Aaa/AAA/AAA bond rating. Arlington maintains a rich variety of stable neighborhoods and quality schools, and has received numerous awards for Smart Growth and transit-oriented development. Home to some of the most influential organizations in the world — including the Pentagon — Arlington stands out as one of America's preeminent places to live, visit and do business.