Signal Mountain going green

Signal Mountain going green

December 24th, 2009 by Emily Bregel in Green

A town council resolution supporting local foods and sustainable farming practices has put Signal Mountain on the map for New York-based environmentalists who have been pushing for the passage of such resolutions across the country.

This fall, Signal Mountain became the first town in the nation to pass a "green foods resolution" based on language suggested by the Farm Sanctuary, an advocacy group in New York that promotes sustainable farming and animal welfare.

"I didn't realize this was a big national effort," said Dr. Paul Hendricks, the Signal Mountain town councilman who introduced the resolution. "It just sounded like the kind of concept that I thought people on our council would be supportive of."

Dr. Hendricks said he suggested the resolution after he read a story by a local columnist about the resolutions.

"I honestly hadn't heard of Farm Sanctuary before," he said.

The resolution doesn't mandate any specific action, but it marks a formal commitment to environmentally friendly ideas such as farmers' markets and community-supported agriculture, in which residents pay money to a local farm at the start of a farming season in exchange for shares of the harvest.

New York City and Chicago now have green food resolutions pending but, in October, Signal Mountain became the first town to pass one, said Gene Baur, president and cofounder of Farm Sanctuary.

The resolution's passage "speaks to the impact and ability for people in smaller towns to really step up and make something happen," he said.

Farm Sanctuary has publicized Signal Mountain's action through news releases over the past few months, leading some bloggers and reporters from across the country to contact Dr. Hendricks.

"I don't mind that at all. I was just a little surprised," he said.

The resolution fits well with other environmentally friendly efforts in Signal Mountain, Dr. Hendricks said. The city's leaders have discussed starting a farmers' market and installing community gardens in the area to give residents greater access to local produce and to support local farmers, he said.

"We're trying to do things that are truly practical and reasonable, and decreasing our impact on the world," he said. "We are trying to really set the standard for what a small town can do on an environmental level."