Problems: Volusia County farmers are facing a variety of challenges, including more extreme climate conditions (e.g., droughts, severe storms), spread of crop diseases (e.g., Citrus greening) international trade restrictions (for the bigger farms), and inadequate distribution systems for getting produce to market (for smaller farms). We also have a shortage of young people aiming to become farmers for their careers. With the pressure to convert farmland to suburban developments (see Land Conversion), farmers are often caught in the profit-driven momentum to sell.
Solutions: Supporting farmer’s innovations for optimum production with minimal nutrient use and loss, integrated pest management strategies, and water and energy efficient systems will ensure that their operations are sustained over generations without depleting essential natural resources. We can also expand food production capacity across space and time by:
- Facilitating urban farms, “agrihoods,” and community gardens
- Promoting garden-based education, and agriculture and food system education in public and private K-12 schools and universities.
- Supporting smaller, local farmers through local farmers markets and grocery stores, restaurants, institutional kitchens, and locally based distributors.
- Supporting larger farmers through rewards and grants for best management practices and facilitating partnerships for new product outlets for produce that is held up in trade-restricted pipelines.