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.

To learn more, please review the Forum Program and Summary Report.

Key Partners & Sponsors

Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation & Open Space District, Sonoma County Department of Health Services, Supervisor James Gore, 4th District