When the Santa Barbara Community Foundation and Orfalea Foundation got together with the Santa Barbara County Food Bank and the Community Environmental Council to imagine creating a comprehensive Food Action Plan for the community, they turned to Ag Innovations for expertise and process design.
Based on our work in Sonoma County with its Food Action Plan as well as our work with food assessments and plans in San Diego, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties, Ag Innovations is bringing to Santa Barbara a decade of experience in how to best rally a community to envision the strategies and actions that will lead to a better food system.
This process highlights three core elements of Ag Innovation’s work:
- Expertise about the issues: We have been working on and around regional food systems issues for more than a decade.
- Process design: We have helped the project sponsors create a 12-month process that will result in a community-driven, but carefully vetted plan that will have broad buy-in.
- Facilitation: We provide the facilitative leadership that both elicits community wisdom and challenge stakeholders to dig deeper for answers to tough questions.
The project has four distinct phases, each of which Ag Innovations is contributing to:
- Design: we worked with the group to help with the design that led to funding for the project.
- Engagement: we helped develop and lead the community engagement portion of the project where broad community aspirations and specific stakeholder needs were solicited.
- Synthesis: we designed the process by which working groups synthesize and advance the information collected in the engagement phase into a proposed plan.
- Implementation: we will work with the sponsors to finalize the plan and refine the ideas it contains based on best practices we have learned from similar projects.
“It’s not often that you find an organization with the capacity to move groups from discord to consensus: Ag Innovations helps diverse stakeholders do just that.”