200+ Leaders Convene for 2016 Sonoma County Food Forum
“The Healthy & Sustainable Food Action Plan can lead us to our final destination – a society where each of us has a place at a bountiful table, where we protect the natural world, and where true prosperity is created by those who grow and prepare our food.” - Joseph McIntyre, Ag Innovations
It’s been four years since Sonoma County’s landmark Healthy & Sustainable Food Action Plan (FAP) became the Sonoma County Food System Alliance's shared vision for the local food system. Last month, over 200 food, farming, and community leaders came together to celebrate the progress made since the adoption of the FAP, and to shape the next phase of action and implementation. The Forum was a fast-paced day featuring new and emerging voices in Sonoma County. Participants engaged in a dynamic exploration of agriculture, natural resources, public health, and social equity, and deliberated about what is deeply needed to realize a thriving local food system.
Key Findings: Connectivity & Collaboration
- The high cost of land remains prohibitive for many beginning farmers and ranchers - innovative financing models have emerged and we must enable new farmers and ranchers to acquire land.
- Increasing connectivity between producers, buyers, and consumers is crucial - neighborhood exchange programs, a virtual food hub, and other similar activities have broad local support.
- Engaging with underrepresented communities continues to prove challenging. We must intentionally grow “community” together - place-based services are empowering and integrating communities.
- Recent projects (Portrait of Sonoma, and the Farmworker Health Survey) have provided much-needed local data – more is needed to track our progress and make increasingly strategic decisions for food system improvement.
Key Partners & Sponsors
Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation & Open Space District, Sonoma County Department of Health Services, Supervisor James Gore, 4th District
Impact Area: Local Food
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Recent Related Projects
Animal Ag Reform Summit
NRCD, Friends of the Earth, and the Animal Ag Reform Collaborative hired Ag Innovations in 2015 to design and facilitate a convening of agriculture, environment, fair labor, and animal welfare advocates to explore key issues in animal ag reform and possible areas of alignment for future campaign collaborations.
Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation (SALC) Program
In Santa Clara County (County) the time is now to align the myriad of plans, programs, policies and infrastructure investments affecting undeveloped agricultural lands across this rapidly growing County and its Cities to sustain the Valley’s natural environment, support the local agricultural economy, maintain the health of its communities and increase the resiliency and adaptation of this region in the face of climate change.
Santa Barbara County Conservation Blueprint
With increasing pressure to accommodate population growth on open space and agricultural lands in Santa Barbara County, it is critical that the community develops a collective vision for the future of its most important wild and working landscapes as well as the tools and strategies for how to move toward that vision.
“Ag Innovations is an inspiring partner for work that’s game-changing in the way that communities—including farmers and the agriculture sector, philanthropic organizations, food security, food justice and culture organizations, food companies, and those linking environmentalism to economics to the future of food—are thinking about and identifying approaches to sustainable change. ”