Piedmont Together Comprehensive Regional Plan

Healthy Communities

Overview

Vision

Ensure the Piedmont Triad remains one of the premier locations for quality of life, recreation, active transportation and health. Through collaborative public and private partnerships, access and education for local, healthy food for all populations will grow.  Strategies and actions will increase understanding of community health and emphasize construction and preservation of walkable and bikeable communities. 

Working together to develop regional policies that support local food distribution, recreation access, active transportation and tobacco free environments and leveraging regional partnerships to develop fiscal and organization resources will ensure communities, regardless of size, will have access to healthier choices and opportunities.

Regional Advantage

By leveraging best practices and concepts for local communities, while identifying appropriate regional initiatives for partners to coalesce around, the Piedmont Triad can build healthier, more livable communities. 

See Health Articles, Maps, Reports and Best Practices

Strategies

Value communities and neighborhoods by enhancing the unique characteristics of all communities: healthy, safe, walkable and bikeable — rural, urban, or suburban.

Provide a safe infrastructure for walking and bicycling as an alternative means of transportation.

  • Establish a locally dedicated funding source for alternative transportation and leverage federal resources.
  • Encourage public/private partnerships in providing greenway facility funding.
  • Establish policies and programs that incentivize building design that supports active transportation (e.g. showers, bicycle parking).

Develop capacity for health impact assessments in the Piedmont Triad.

  • Provide education and training to elected officials around the process and value of health impact assessments.
  • Conduct a survey for public agencies gathering familiarity with and propensity to use Health Impact Assessments (HIAs).
  • Develop an education campaign illustrating the link between public health and community planning.

Encourage larger healthcare providers to open satellite offices in underserved urban areas, town centers and employment generators.

  • Establish local ordinances that incentivize locating healthcare facilities in convenient locations.
  • Provide tax abatement for smaller healthcare campuses.

Value rural landscapes and productive farmland, while supporting healthy local food consumption.

Develop a region-wide, sustainable production and transportation network for fresh food from local farms and community gardens.

  • Initiate efforts to link resources from multiple non-profit organizations, such as Piedmont Grown, with public health departments, agriculture extension and soil and water conservation districts, local farming groups and others.
  • Develop partnerships between local colleges and growers/farmers to provide educational and extension courses in USDA regulations and innovative farming methods, while also exploring land preservation incentives provided by the state.
  • Support a Region Wide Local Foods Network to better connect local farmers and processors with local restaurants, food co-ops, grocery stores, farmers markets and families.

Preserve productive farmland by identifying targeted growth areas for higher density development while simultaneously, limiting the extension of infrastructure into agricultural lands.

  • Develop an educational campaign that identifies the economic impact of Piedmont farms and agribusiness while also explaining the potential loss due to sprawling patterns of development.
  • Create, distribute and promote adoption of incentive-based ordinance language that encourages farmland preservation through cluster development.

To promote a regional, decentralized network of cold storage and aggregation enterprises geared toward assisting small-scale producers engage with new markets and wholesale buyers, and increase the profitability of a diversity of food and farm businesses.

Integrate small-scale, independent local food aggregation and cold storage business support and development into the Piedmont Triad region economic and community development efforts.

  • Provide and maintain an up-to-date online hub for resources related to technical support, foundation or other grant support, and access to financing that is specific to local foods aggregation and cold storage.
  • Ensure that food system resource information provided is relevant to and accessible by all farmers, small business owners, and entrepreneurs. Consider Spanish-language translations of some materials, and use language that is clear and not reliant on industry jargon using multiple outlets not part of the local food movement.

Facilitate private sector efforts to locate existing and potential sites and facilities for the aggregation and cold storage of local foods. Promote the "clustering" of food and farm businesses, while also recognizing the economic development potential that small-scale aggregation and storage holds for rural regions of the Piedmont Triad.

  • Encourage the use of NC Growing Together's Local Food Infrastructure Inventory through promoting the tool in regional development online and print materials. (http://www.cefs.ncsu.edu/statewide-infrastructure-map.html)
  • Facilitate the coordination between growers, buyers, and producers through promoting the use of existing directories such as Piedmont Grown (http://www.piedmontgrown.org/) and Local Harvest (http://www.localharvest.org/).
  • Work in tandem with local economic development offices and agencies (especially those in the more rural parts of the Piedmont Triad) to ensure that they have access to Food System resources.

Build connections between Piedmont Triad local food system efforts and University, Cooperative Extension, and other partners that can provide on-going technical assistance regulatory expertise to food and farm businesses.

  • Inform the appropriate University and Cooperative Extension partners of the Piedmont Triad region's commitment to developing aggregation and cold storage capabilities for food and farm businesses (specifically those addressing the needs of small-scale producers) so that potential partnerships can be identified and pursued.
  • Actively share information on conferences, workshops, and seminars that pertain to aggregation and cold storage of local foods on Piedmont Triad websites. Examples include the National Good Food Network (NGFN) Food Hub Conference in Raleigh (March, 2014) and various seminars conducted by NC State's Fresh Produce Safety department (http://ncfreshproducesafety.ncsu.edu/).

Accomplishments

Regional map of low food access areas and area farmer's markets
Action plan to address healthy food access and healthy community design
Health Impact Assessment on a transit project
Incubator Farm Planning toolkit
Cold Storage and Aggregation Facility Feasibility Study
Agricultural fact sheets about organic and sustainable farming in the Piedmont
Support for CDC and DHHS grants through support letters and technical review