Picture of Lana Russell-Hurd

Lana Russell-Hurd

Bolstering the Food System in Sonoma County

It’s October so that means harvest season is here in Sonoma County. Long known for its diversity of crops—including fruits, vegetables, nursery crops, dairy, livestock, and of course, wine—the county supplies the Bay Area with a huge bounty of locally grown food.

In fact, according to the County’s crop report [PDF], the economic value of Sonoma County agricultural goods in 2013 amounted to nearly $850 million.

So why are there three times as many fast food restaurants and convenience stores as there are grocery stores in the county? Why are many farmers still struggling? And why are Sonoma’s productive farmlands and ranchlands still being paved over for development?

As a member of the Sonoma County Food System Alliance, Greenbelt Alliance is collaborating with a diverse group of partners to address these issues such as the inaccessibility of to healthy foods and the loss of farmland and ranchland. To guide this work, the Food System Alliance, the Sonoma County Department of Health Services, city and county leaders, and community groups created the Food Action Plan [PDF], which focuses on four areas:

  1. Agriculture and Natural Resources
  2. Economic Vitality
  3. Healthy Eating
  4. Social Equity

The Sonoma County Food System Alliance focuses on making improvements to these four key aspects of the local food system through organizational, regulatory, and policy changes. We envision a Sonoma County where our agricultural lands are protected and maintained, local growers and ranchers see their businesses thrive, and residents throughout the Bay Area have access to healthy, affordable food. The Food Action Plan will be a vital tool for affecting positive change to realize this vision.

photo: Thomas Hawk via Flickr

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