What We’re Working on Now
The Santa Barbara Food Action Plan is the ongoing product of a community coalition of food system and health organizations facilitated by Ag Innovations that lays out the community's strategies and actions that will lead to a better food system for all. Ag Innovations is utilizing its decade-plus experience in other California counties in facilitating and producing such a community road map for food sytstem health.
What We’re Thinking
Purple Wheat: Growing a New Food System Collaboratively
Ask anyone on the street if they can name at least two types of tomatoes, and they'd probably throw out "Roma" and "cherry" without missing a beat. Can they list two different market classes or varieties of wheat? Are there even different varieties of wheat? In a way they'd be correct in thinking that there isn’t much diversity. The reason for this is in large part due to the success of the globalized, industrialized food system. It has caused the disappearance of many of the local mills, grain dryers, and other infrastructure that is needed to bring a new variety to the local marketplace. So even once a purple wheat variety is released and grown by a farmer, the road from the field to the oven will be an arduous one. That’s why collaboration is the single-most important ingredient in growing the local food system. We need spaces where the farmer can meet with the baker and the crop breeder and the lender and the policymaker. Because not only do we need to grow new crops, but we also need to grow new relationships and a new business ecosystem.Read More
Taking a More Holistic Approach to Food Hub Feasibility: Measuring the Impact of Value Chain Coordination
In this 3-part series, Ag Innovations is examining food hub feasibility in a non-traditional way. This series weaves together insights from a growing body of food systems research and past experience in food hub development. In our first post, Efficacy of Food Hubs, we agreed on the USDA’s current definition of a food hub, then called for practitioners to expand their thinking about how their projects affect other parts of the food system. In our second post, we called on practitioners to build collaborative processes into their planning phases to reduce risk and create thriving partnerships. This final blog in our series shines a spotlight on the importance of value chain coordinators (also known as market facilitators) in food hub development and operation, and illustrates the need to measure the impact of their efforts.Read More
CRAE Summit: New Perspectives on How Working Lands Work
Last month, over 70 leaders from diverse sectors came together to co-create recommendations on the enhancement of California’s working lands - its farms, ranches and forests. The day-long Summit built on a decade-long history of the California Roundtable on Agriculture & the Environment (CRAE), a statewide forum convened by Ag Innovations where leaders come together to talk about what matters and how to solve key problems at the intersection of agriculture and the environment.
Taking A More Holistic Approach to Food Hub Feasibility: Reducing Risk Through Collaborative Process
In this 3-part series, Ag Innovations is examining food hub feasibility in a non-traditional way. This series weaves together insights from a growing body of food systems research and experience in food hub development. In our first post Efficacy of Food Hubs, we shared the USDA’s current definition of a food hub, and then we called for practitioners to expand their thinking about feasibility to include a more holistic assessment to consider how food hub projects affect the entirety of a food system in a specific area. In this second post in this 3-part series, we examine how incorporating collaborative process into food hub planning development can reduce business risk.
What We’ve Done
California Food System Alliance Project
The Alliance project has been Ag Innovations' main project since the founding of the original county Alliance in Ventura County in 1999. At one time or another, as many as 12 different counties in California have had a local Alliance organized and facilitated by Ag Innovations.
Making Good Food Work Conference
Michigan State University’s Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS) hired Ag Innovations to design and facilitate their 2011 three-day participatory conference and idea incubation laboratory towards solving food-based challenges faced by underserved communities in the Detroit area.
San Diego Community Food Project
Ag Innovations served as an evaluation consultant for the Community Food Project of the International Rescue Committee in San Diego in 2011-2012, assisting in evaluation efforts and supporting integration of participant feedback.
Sonoma County Food System Alliance: Growing Our Farms Forum
Growing Our Farms was a forum to share resources and forge new partnerships between landowners, land seekers, and support organizations working to improve land availability for local food production.View »
2014 Salon Series: Finding Higher Ground
Joseph McIntyre, President of Ag Innovations, discusses how to move collaborations to action. Part of Ag Innovations' 'Salon Series' targeted to bring resources to leaders and food system advocates.View »
2014 Salon Series: Food Action Plans
Is your community or organization working to create a unified vision for your county's food system? Join Ag Innovations as we divulge the details of our Sonoma County Food Action Plan, a product of the Sonoma County Food System Alliance. The plan is one of few of its kind in the country, providing a roadmap for a more sustainable food system across sectors.View »