Pro-agricultural changes needed

The Encinitas City Council election is just days away and many have received a negative robo-call against me that is a sign that some fear the pro-agriculture changes that I’m fighting for.

On the campaign trail, the biggest concerns I hear from residents relate to over-crowding, worsening traffic, and too much density.

Small scale and backyard agriculture can be part of the solution. There are many personal as well as community benefits to agriculture, including reduced dependence on long supply chains (less traffic), allowing landowners to choose farming instead of housing development (less density) and reconnecting us to our land and heritage (higher quality of life).

Landowners make development decisions in the context of the choices allowed by our zoning code. Let’s update those codes to make creative, small-scale agriculture possible. Don’t you want Encinitas to have community gardens, small farms offering U-Pick and Farm-to-Fork dinners, as well as neighborhood fruit stands selling backyard produce?

It’s important to remember the reality that growing food is hard work and costly, especially with current water rates. Few people will grow enough food to put on a lemonade stand for their neighbors to buy. It is fear mongering to suggest that every home will host a market bazaar at the end of the driveway. We have to incentivize agriculture if we want ANYONE to do it.

My effort to encourage backyard food production is currently experiencing pushback from those who prefer that our community drive to the grocery store to buy produce trucked from the central valley and labeled “local” because it doesn’t come from South America.

We can update our codes to encourage local food production, if we have leaders willing to take the political heat and figure out how to make it happen procedurally. I’m willing to do that, and I believe I’m not fighting this battle alone.

The political process is designed for those with the loudest voices to determine the direction of our city. Please stand up for a vision of Encinitas that includes agriculture or we’ll be drown out by those who fear change. We can be a city that embraces our agricultural past and makes it part of our future. Or we can continue the long march away from our land, our history, our legacy, and any semblance of food independence. The choice is ours.

Catherine Blakespear is a candidate for Encinitas City Council.

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