Walbridge Campaign Announces Proposals to Support Environmental Sustainability
In an effort to establish Loudoun as a leader in environmental stewardship, Walbridge proposes the creation of a Natural Resources Department and a public-private partnership to build a Loudoun farmers’ market near the county’s new Metro stations
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 4, 2019
Round Hill — Today, Tia Walbridge, Democratic nominee for Blue Ridge Supervisor, announced proposals for two new initiatives focused on supporting conservation, environmental sustainability, and active agriculture in Loudoun: the establishment of (1) a county Natural Resources Department and (2) a public-private partnership to create a farmers’ market near the metro to connect Western Loudoun producers with eastern consumers.
“Now more than ever, state and local governments need to step up to create their own strategies to preserve our natural resources,” Walbridge said. “Loudoun, a county comprised of rural, suburban, and urban regions and often in the national spotlight, is uniquely suited to become a leader in local environmental stewardship. It’s time our county stepped up to the plate.”
Establishing a Natural Resources Department
The first initiative calls for the creation of a county Natural Resources Department, focused on Management, Conservation and Preservation, Restoration, Community, and Sustainable Building. This new department will reorganize a number of existing offices within General Services, Zoning, Building and Development, and Parks and Recreation to maximize government efficiency, reduce wasteful spending, and put teeth behind environmental policies and programs by housing them within a specific department and assigning staff to implement and manage them.
Most surrounding counties have established departments or offices dedicated to protecting their natural resources. Loudoun is an anomaly. When successful, environmental policies enacted at the local level can be scaled up to state and national levels.
Through a public-private partnership, establishing a farmers’ market near the Metro to connect Western Loudoun producers with eastern consumers
As Western Loudoun agricultural lands continue to erode, preserving its rural economy will require a multifaceted approach. In addition to putting in place policies and programs to preserve the land itself, county officials must actively support local farmers and farm-based businesses, like farmers’ markets.
Throughout Northern Virginia, there has been a disturbing pattern of marketing companies taking over local farmers’ markets, forcing out local vendors with high fees and fines, and replacing them with out-of-state producers, whose products they market as local. This is happening right here in Loudoun.
As Loudoun builds new metro stations, the county has an opportunity to partner with the corporations developing the stations to establish a robust farmers’ market that supports Western Loudoun farmers by connecting them with a dense population of steady consumers from the east, hungry for local produce. Comstock Corporation, developing one of these stations, has expressed interest in such a partnership. The opportunity for partnership could extend to organizations like Farm Bureau, Visit Loudoun, and private transportation companies to share staffing, coordination, and management responsibilities in an effort to:
- Help local producers earn fair prices by selling directly to consumers.
- Provide consumers with access to fresh, nutritious, local produce.
- Increase agritourism.
- Generate foot traffic and animate public spaces.
In an effort to maximize support to local farmers, we suggest:
- Setting a radius within which producers are considered “local.”
- Giving these local producers prime locations within the market.
- Charging local producers a smaller fee for participation.