The "Raising Fields" Project: How Sea Level Rise Planners and Agricultural Interests Can Take Action Now
Given the detailed studies pertaining to agriculture, implementation of these three goals is what is needed next to get our region ready for rising seas.
Here is what the "Raising Fields" project now proposes:
1. To further the objectives of Compact recommendations AG-1, AG-2 and AG-3, Broward County, as a Compact member, dedicates one acre of land atop Vista View Park for a demonstration project of how raised fields can produce robust and thriving crops.
2. A local university works with students and Park Management to create the raised field growing area on the land designated by the Broward County Commission.
3. Professors of Engineering, Architecture, Agriculture, environmental experts and other key disciplines (hydrology, spatial mapping, economics) work to prepare the property in conjunction with private non-profit interests in an inter-disciplinary three year program to study and analyze best practices for raised agriculture in Southeast Florida.
4. At the end of each year, a detailed peer-reviewed report is issued through the Compact which carefully scrutinizes the "beta" Raising Fields Project, with analysis of: Construction costs for other raised projects, the best crops to grow in elevated properties, abatement of salt water intrusion methods, storm water management in raised fields, construction strategies for raised fields lasting 50-75 years and other relevant topics.
5. Surveys of potential areas for raised fields in South Florida are created for expansion of the concept if, after year one, "Raising Fields" is determined to be viable in light of projected and accelerting sea level rise projections.
6. Community agricultural and farming meetings and webinars are conducted with stakeholders and the public in order to provide feedback to the project and to share experience as the experiment progresses.
The Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact is the nation's leader in regional-scale government planning for sea level rise and other effects of climate change. The Compact has created the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Action Plan (RCAP), which currently includes 110 innovative and bold mitigation and adaptation strategies.
The Compact also works with federal, state, municipal, non-profit, academic and private sector stakeholders. This collaboration covers the following counties: Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe, all in Southeastern Florida, one of the most threatened areas of the nation given the reality of sea level rise.
Among the detailed recommendations in the RCAP is an agriculture component. The stated goal is to, "Ensure the continued viability of agriculture in Southeast Florida through policies which remove barriers to production, promote economic incentives, improve water reliability, and provide research on best management practices, thereby encouraging sustainable production in the face of a changing climate."
According to the RCAP, "Consideration of agricultural impacts is vital to any regional action plan which should include action plans to address flooding, salt-water intrusion, exotic pests and disease introduction and crop changes due to climate change."
Three of the recommendations are "AG-1," "AG-2," and "AG-3."
AG-1 states, "Promote policies which preserve the economic viability of agriculture as the industry adapts in the face of climate change."
AG-2 states, "Develop and seek regional, state, and county-based funding for willing buyer/willing seller Agriculture Purchase of Development Rights Program to maintain agricultural land for its ability to lessen climate change impacts and provide for national food security."
AG-3 provides, "Support academic research in the agriculture sector on best management practices for crops presently grown or new crops which may be grown as climate conditions change in Southeast Florida."
Is there room at Vista View Park for this raised field experiment? See just how much room there is. Video courtesy Luis GCU and YouTube.