Monday, April 20, 2009

Loudoun County, Virginia - A Sustainable Community Committed to the Promotion of Suburban Fringe Farming

At one time, fresh vegetables and milk were brought daily from nearby farms to our cities. It is only as our urban areas have grown larger and the farmland has been pushed farther and farther away from our cities that we have had to resort to such methods as picking vegetables before they are ripe in distant locations such as Mexico - and then shipping them over long distances and using chemicals to ripen them after they are shipped to the city. Just when it seemed that one could no longer find truly fresh vegetables in the chain grocery stores anymore, however, whole food stores have spring up in our cities and suburbs that have again turned to locally grown fresh produce. One of the ways that has been developed to grow such locally grown fresh produce at affordable prices and throughout the year has been hydroponic farms. Hydroponic farms grow produce in green houses without the use of soil. Since the temperature can be controlled in the green houses and pests more easily controlled, hydroponic farms are able to grown the highest quality produce in small close-in suburban/urban fringe locations at affordable prices. Also, since hydroponic farms recycle the water that they use, they reduce or eliminate the runoff of fertilizer into our streams, rivers and estuaries. Other examples of suburban fringe farms include: (1) farms dedicated to raising flowers to be sold to florists, hotels and other buildings so that they do not have to purchase flowers purchased from distant farms; (2) farms dedicating to growing potted plants to be sold to home garderners at local Wal-Mart and other stores; and (3) eco-tourism farms where individuals and families can go to pick their own strawberries and other fruits and vegetables. Loudoun County, Virginia is am example of a suburban county that has made a commitment to the promotion of suburban fringe farming to help keep our urban/suburban landscapes "green."