1000 Friends of Oregon

Greg Holmes with 1000 Friends

Greg Holmes is the Food Systems Program Director at 1000 Friends of Oregon. 1000 Friends was formed in 1975 after the passage of Senate Bill 100 created Oregon’s land use program. Greg explained that Senate Bill 100 “created urban growth boundaries.  Basically, a line is drawn around a city. The idea is that you try to get most of the growth, most of the development, most of the population, and most of the jobs, inside that line rather than outside, which leaves the land on the outside available for resource uses like forestry or agriculture…The bill created the concept of an urban growth boundary as a new tool for how Oregon could accommodate growth and population and simultaneously protect Oregon’s thriving agriculture and forest economies.”

Once urban growth boundaries were established, rules were made that determined how land had to be dealt with, both inside and outside of cities. Greg explains, “Cities have to do a lot of planning to make them good places to live. They have to plan for the form of the city, they have to plan for transportation, they have to plan to make sure that they are going to have enough land for housing and enough land for employment, whether that’s factories or offices or fire departments or schools.” Land outside of the boundaries is also planned and protected for specific uses. For example, land zoned for agriculture must be used for related purposes, and can’t be used for things like building subdivisions. Greg explains that “each county is required to have its own plan that complies with state law, and then each city is required to have its own plan that complies with both the county it’s in and the state. All the counties are different and all the cities are different but they all fit within the statewide framework that they have to comply with.”

When it first began, 1000 Friends mainly acted as a citizens watchdog group, “Making sure that state and local governments implement the land use system the way it was intended to be implemented.” Greg explains that in the past 40 years, “ We have evolved as the needs have changed. Now we work a lot more proactively ensuring that development and growth is done in a way that looks toward the long term sustainability of the state and our resources here.”

1000 Friends created their Food Systems Program as a part of that evolution. Based in part on work Greg was already doing with the Rogue Valley Food System Network and in other communities in southern Oregon, its purpose is to help Oregonians understand and realize the benefits that come from strong local food systems. Inside the cities this means building neighborhoods where people have access to the things they need, including healthy, nutritious food, and the option to not have to drive to get them. It means making cities places people want to live, so that the cities don’t sprawl out and cover good agricultural lands. Outside of the cities it means helping farmers be economically successful so that they don’t feel pressure to develop their land for other uses. Finally, it also means connecting those farmers to the people in the cities who will buy what Oregon farmers are producing, strengthening our economy and making Oregon a better place for us all to live.  To learn more about 1000 Friends of Oregon visit https://www.friends.org/