Michele Beasley

Michele Beasley

Rethinking Santa Clara County’s food system

Before Silicon Valley, there was the Valley of Heart’s Delight—Santa Clara County has long been known for its abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables. And while orchards have become tech campuses over time, there is room for both versions of the valley to thrive.

Morgan Hill, San Martin, and Gilroy are still home to million-dollar crops such as mushrooms, bell peppers, and salad greens. Urban farms such as Veggielution and creative local food ventures such as Valley Verde continue to crop up, creating a new generation of farmers. More than half of the 36 certified farmers’ markets in Santa Clara County accommodate food assistance programs. So why is it that too many people in the county still lack access to healthy food, finding it easier to eat a Big Mac than fresh, locally grown food?

As a member of the Food System Alliance, Greenbelt Alliance is working with others to address the issues with Santa Clara County’s food system—from the inaccessibility of healthy foods to the loss of farmland. To aid this effort, the Food System Alliance has just released the Santa Clara County Food System Assessment, a practical tool that will serve as the foundation for positive change.

Key findings include:

  • Proportion of Santa Clara County farms with direct sales (10.5%) is greater than that of California (8.7%)
  • La Mesa Verde’s program to increase healthy food access for impoverished communities resulted in 91% of families eating more vegetables and 25% of families reporting savings of over $720 annually by eating homegrown produce
  • 38% of adults in the county are overweight; 17% are obese
  • 55% of the county’s remaining farmland is at risk of being developed in the next 30 years

To learn more, download the Santa Clara County Food System Assessment (PDF). Regional Director Michele Beasley and former Greenbelt Alliance Campaign Manager Erin Munning contributed to this report.

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