Environmental Cowboys

Renegotiating Community and Economic Prosperity in Rural Sarasota County through Local Knowledge and Environmental Stewardship.

This 8 year study was a look at historic land-use and concepts of environmental stewardship in Sarasota County and looking at why it is important to understand these concepts when planning for future growth and development.

Objective: The key objective of this research is to gather the information needed to help the Agriculture/Rural community influence policy makers and developers to an understanding of the economic value and importance of preserving rural land, rural culture, and agriculture in Sarasota County to promote the economic and ecological health of Sarasota County.

I believe that prosperous models of economically growth will be those rooted in stewardship of the environment.

I learned during this research that even though the 2050 comprehensive plan ask for a different type of development that preserves and promotes agriculture, there exist no process for the integration of urban and rural landscapes, nor has there even been any dialogue to discuss how this might be done. I am here to be a catalyst for this discussion.

I believe there exist in Sarasota a desire among residents to preserve large portions of ecological resources, especially those currently owned as public land and to make these lands accessible to the public where possible through the development of ecotourism and agrotourism.

I would like to propose the concept of what I would call, “Agricultural Urbanism”.  Agricultural urbanism is a development approach that would embrace the current desires of communities to create local food hubs and live in places that blend rural and urban amenities.  It would honor the people who already live within those rural spaces and invite them to be participants within the economic well-being of the village or hamlet design created. With a focus on the arts and culture that are part of Sarasota’s identity, intentional communities that embrace rural living, the arts and foodways could embrace and promote the creative talents of those within the rural community and offer opportunities for urban-to-rural migration for Sarasota citizens who seek a rural lifestyle with simple urban amenities. Energy and resource self sufficiency would be natural build within these intentional communities as self-reliance is a strong quality of rural communities values. I wholeheartedly believe that this must become a critical dialogue for the future of Sarasota County right now. Sarasota has one chance to do development right and we must realize the ecosystem is the beauty and breathe of Sarasota County.

Agricultural urbanism is a development approach that would embrace the current desires of communities to create local food hubs and live in places that blend rural and urban amenities.  I believe it could provide for a type of urbanized rural focused development that would address many of the current conflicts between rural lifeways, the environment and the interconnectivity of habitat and landscape had been expressed as a need both from environmental groups and county staff as necessary aspects of future land use


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