Saturday, May 25, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
October 30, 2012
DALLAS -- The Polk County Planning Commission has recommended approving a proposal that will streamline the process for farms to expand their operations to include limited food service.
The commission made its recommendation on the proposal, called "Safe Harbor," at a public hearing on Oct. 23. The next step is a public hearing before the Polk County Board of Commissioners scheduled Jan. 9.
Under the proposal, farmers would be allowed to prepare and serve food featuring products grown on their operations on a limited basis.
Polk County regulations allow such activity on farms in the "exclusive farm use" and "farm/forest" zones, but the application process is complicated. Safe Harbor was created to allow more producers to take advantage of the opportunity.
The commission did suggest minor changes to the proposal.
Farms that apply under Safe Harbor would have to meet five standard criteria to qualify. One standard states items served to customers have at least 25 percent of their value derived from products grown on the farm. The commission added a provision to allowitems to qualify if 50 percent of their weight was from food grown on the farm.
Jerry Sorte, the county's planning manager, said the addition would make it easier for farms growing fruits and vegetables to meet the standard.
When originally proposed, the idea just included fresh farm products, but in response to feedback the planning department created a second option to include off-site processed food. The commission recommended the latter.
Sorte said there still is time for people to offer comments on the proposal, either directly to planning staff or at the Jan. 9 public hearing.
More information on Safe Harbor is available on the planning department website: www.co.polk.or.us/cd/planning/planning-division or by calling 503-623-9237.