Making Connections: How the Local Food Movement Can Support Ventura County Agriculture


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Report on 2012 Activities of the Ventura County Ag Futures Alliance.

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Making Connections: How the Local Food Movement Can Support Ventura County Agriculture

  1. 1. Making Connections: How the Local Food Movement Can Support Ventura County Agriculture Report on 2012 Activities of the Ventura County Ag Futures Alliance FUTURES ALLIANCE VENTURA COUNTY Photo Credit: John Nichols
  2. 2. Executive Summary “Making Connections: How the Local Food Movement Can Support Ventura County Agriculture”, was an event hosted by Ventura County’s Ag Futures Alliance (VAFA), and took place in February 2012, drawing 225 community members. This report is a summary of the summit itself, outcomes from the summit, and AFA’s work in the months since this significant event. The Ventura County Ag Futures Alliance (VAFA), a diverse stakeholder collaborative VAFA is committed to taking direction for its work from Ventura County citizens addressing issues of long-term agricultural viability in Ventura County, hosted the 2012 Agricultural Summit at the historic Camarillo Ranch House Barn. The Alliance sought to generate dialogue and increase collaboration in the community about the important economic role that locally produced agricultural products play for a prosperous Ventura County, and to set the agenda for ongoing collaboration on other important issues that surfaced during the Summit. In a show of widespread interest in local agriculture, community stakeholders at the day-long event included local food producers, agricultural support agencies, elected officials, educators, food distributors, labor advocates, and consumers. Speakers included the Ventura County Agricultural Commissioner and Public Health Officer, the Farm Bureau of Ventura County, the Deputy Director for Los Angeles Unified School District’s Food Services Department, and many more. California Secretary of Food and Agriculture, Karen Ross, and USDA Rural Development Director, Glenda Humiston, delivered keynote addresses. Detailed reports on these presentations and panels are available on VAFA’s webpage at Many themes were discussed throughout the day, but a few priority issues rose to the surface for participants. Key challenges affecting the long-term viability of agriculture that were identified included: urban encroachment, water issues, and the difficult regulatory environment. Important opportunities to improve the county’s food and agriculture system identified by the group included: broad-based agricultural education as a way to increase connections between farms and other institutions (with a focus on schools) and building regional food infrastructure or food hubs to enhance local market opportunities for growers. VAFA is committed to taking direction for its work from Ventura County citizens, and as such used the Summit as a launching pad for its activities this year. In response to the Summit findings, the Alliance launched a series of efforts, including: • Forming an Ag Education Committee that is working to identify priority educational projects that will bolster the local agriculture industry; • Hosting a listening session for local producers to identify potential actions aimed at reducing the regulatory burden while maintaining environmental standards; • Hosting a convening of 50 agricultural educators to begin assessing educational resources that could be leveraged for agriculture in Ventura County. VAFA will continue to use the data collected from the Summit as a way to inform its next steps, and will continue to seek feedback from the public as it works to maintain a thriving agricultural industry in Ventura County. 2 | R E P OR T ON 20 1 2 ACTIVITIES OF THE VENTURA COUNTY A G F U T U R ES A L L IA N C E
  3. 3. Table of Contents Report on the 2012 Ventura County Agricultural Summit: “Making Connections: How the Local Food Movement Can Support Ventura County Agriculture” 4 Progress Report, December 2012 6 Easing the Regulatory Burden 6 Building Rural-Urban Connections through Agricultural Education 6 Additional Progress 7 Appendices Ag Summit Participants 8-10 Ag Summit Sponsors “Thank You” 11 VAFA Members - 2012 Summit Planning Committee Rich Atmore, R.A. Atmore and Sons, Inc. Kimberly Albright, Whole Foods Market Art Bliss Eric Cardenas, Ag Innovations Network Merrill Berge, Save Open Space and Agricultural Sandy Curwood, Ventura Unified School District Resources Sonja Flores, House Farm Workers! Joanie Blaxter, Weston A. Price Foundation John Krist, Farm Bureau of Ventura County Katherine Brokaw, Wells Fargo Ag. Industries Dept. Helen McGrath, Ag Innovations Network Jose De Soto, UC Hansen Trust Phil McGrath, McGrath Family Farm Alise Echele, Ventura Unified School District Joseph McIntyre, Ag Innovations Network Henry Gonzalez, Ventura County Agricultural Kat Merrick, Totally Local VC Commissioner John Nichols, Art Dealer Christina McGinnis, Environmental Defense Center Don Nishiguchi, Whole Foods Market Doug Nelson, Mainstreet Architects Josh Pinkerton, Pinkerton Ranch John Nichols, John Nichols Gallery Chris Sayer, Petty Ranch Tracy Perez, United Staffing Associates Karen Schmidt, Save Our Space & Agricultural Resources Josh Pinkerton, Farm Bureau of Ventura County Bonnie Weigel, FOOD Share Brian Stark, Ojai Valley Land Conservancy Amy Storm, Larry Walkers Associates Chris Stephens, Ventura County Planning Dept. Alicia Tharp, Ideal Seafood Event Organizer Ruth Ballin, Ballin Marketing & Public Relations Thank you volunteers from Food Share! R EPOR T ON 2012 A C T IVIT IES OF T H E VEN T U R A C OU N T Y A G F U T U R ES A LLI A N C E | 3
  4. 4. Report on the 2012 Ventura County Agricultural Summit: “Making Connections: How the Local Food Movement Can Support Ventura County Agriculture” On February 17, 2012, the Ventura County Ag Futures Alliance (VAFA) hosted a day-long Summit entitled “Making Connections: How the Local Food Movement Can Support Ventura County Agriculture.” The 225 participants came from a number of local stakeholder groups that included food producers, health providers and educators, agricultural businesses and support services, and civic and community members. Throughout the day, participants shared their views on the issues facing Ventura County agriculture and its role in the economic fabric of our county now and in the future. Below is a report to the community based on the information gathered from Summit participants, and a description of how VAFA plans to use that information to guide the Alliance’s plan for action. As part of the Summit process, participants were asked to write down what they considered to be the top challenges to the long-term viability of agriculture in Ventura County. Nearly all 225 participants responded, and all responses were tallied and categorized based on content as well as the responder’s stakeholder group (i.e. grower, educator, etc.). Some responses fit into multiple categories. Detailed results are available on VAFA’s webpage at For the group as a whole, the five most commonly stated long-term challenges included: • • Increased government regulation; • Farm labor availability/immigration reform; and • | Water cost/availability; • 4 Urban encroachment/preservation of farmland; Invasive pests. R E P OR T ON 20 1 2 ACTIVITIES OF THE VENTURA COUNTY A G F U T U R ES A L L IA N C E
  5. 5. 1. Top Long-Term Challenges for Agriculture in VC Regardless of their stakeholder group, participants 2. Top 3-Year Goals for Ventura County Food and Agriculture System were largely in agreement on the biggest challenges Participants in different stakeholder groups had facing agriculture in Ventura County. As mentioned slightly differing views of what the next steps above, these included: should be for the Ventura County food system and • • Water; • Regulation; • Labor; • their stakeholder group’s role in it. Urban encroachment; Pests. The following were the top recommendations: • Education about agricultural issues, with a focus on farm-to-school; • The establishment of a local food hub or co-op; Four of the top five issues (urban encroachment, • recognized brand; water, regulation, and labor) were shared by three of the four stakeholder groups (see graph below). Promoting Ventura County as a more well- • Ensuring the continued availability of water at a reasonable cost; • Grappling with food deserts and food security issues for low-income residents. All stakeholder groups saw education and farmto-school programs as a critical part of keeping agriculture viable in the county (see graph below). VAFA would like to thank everyone who attended the Summit. The insights gained from the participants have been essential in defining our future direction and being able to best serve the county. For a complete overview of participant results, please visit VAFA’s website at Special thanks to members of VAFA’s Ag Education Committee who contributed to the analysis and development of this report, including Katie Brokaw, Alise Echele, Sonja Florez, John Nichols and Tracy Perez. R EPOR T ON 2012 A C T IVIT IES OF T H E VEN T U R A C OU N T Y A G F U T U R ES A LLI A N C E | 5
  6. 6. Progress Report December 2012 VAFA On the Road: Community Engagement Strategies Since the Summit Since the February 2012 Agricultural Summit hosted by the Ventura County Ag Futures Alliance (VAFA) at the historic Camarillo Ranch House, VAFA has worked diligently to address concerns raised by Summit participants. In the nine months that have passed since the convening, VAFA’s committees have spearheaded various unique efforts to continue promoting a vibrant food and agriculture system in Ventura County. Below is a brief update on this work. Easing the Regulatory Burden At VAFA’s 2012 Summit, as well as at other forums across the state, the issue of the challenging regulatory environment for agriculture was raised as a significant problem for the agricultural industry. VAFA heard these concerns and, acknowledging the significance of this hurdle for agriculture, took on the task of trying to more clearly articulate specific regulatory concerns while simultaneously identifying potential solutions. Responding to concerns voiced in Ventura County and beyond, VAFA’s first step was to convene a regulatory “listening session” in Ventura. At the session, agricultural producers were able to articulate concerns related to their agricultural operations and the regulations that negatively affected their business. The goal of this listening session was to document real-world examples of regulatory barriers, identify specific challenges to agricultural producers, and identify direct and specific solutions to these stated concerns. At the listening session, held in Ventura in July, producers cited the specific challenges of navigating an unwieldy and bureaucratic permitting process, burdensome costs and timelines associated with permitting, and regulations that were often at odds with each other, among others (Notes from the listening session are available on VAFA is now working through its Land Use Committee to bring these concerns to the attention of local policy decision-makers through a series of agricultural presentations focusing on the many components that represent the diversity of the local agricultural industry. The listening session was one in a series held around the state in partnership with Ag Innovations Network to identify issues of statewide concern to the agricultural community. We look forward to exploring collaborating with Food System Alliances in other parts of the state to implement joint solutions that might help address the regulatory challenges faced by our agricultural producers. Building Rural-Urban Connections through Agricultural Education In addition to the regulatory burdens identified by Summit participants, one of the areas most frequently cited as a potential opportunity was the need for agricultural education/information at all levels within the community. AFA responded by forming an Ag Education Committee comprised of current VAFA members as well as representatives of the local agricultural industry and educational institutions. Upon forming this new committee, the group launched into prioritization exercises aimed at taking the first steps to address this glaring need, as identified by community members. 6 | R E P OR T ON 20 1 2 ACTIVITIES OF THE VENTURA COUNTY A G F U T U R ES A L L IA N C E
  7. 7. The Ag Education Committee determined that hosting a gathering of local agricultural educators was an important first step in order to: (a) assess the status of local agricultural education efforts, b) determine what gaps in agricultural education existed, and c) assess the role that VAFA and the Ag Education Committee might play in serving as a future resource for building bridges. This forum was held on Thursday, November 1st, 2012, at The Agricultural Museum in Santa Paula from in front of 60 agricultural educators. Keynote speaker Rose Hayden-Smith gave an overview of local educational resources currently available as well as the critical need for increased agricultural education resources among the community. A panel of farmers, educators, and others discussed their own perspectives on ongoing efforts while illuminating some of the gaps they perceived to be present. During group discussion, key takeaways included: the need for agricultural education targeted at junior high- and high school-aged youth; a need for a central repository of agricultural education resources; the need for access to speakers knowledgeable about farming, gardening and other food related topics; and a need to train existing teachers about agricultural topics. The VAFA’s Ag Education Committee is currently gathering surveys from local educators to help inform appropriate next steps and resource needs. Already, 15 new community members with a background in agricultural education have expressed interest in joining this committee. To learn more, please visit Additional Progress House Farmworkers! (HF!), a former VAFA committee now working independently, continues to work at the city level throughout Ventura County. By forming working groups in various communities throughout the county, HF! is addressing the glaring lack of affordable workforce housing by targeting the Housing Element of local General Plans. After the long and generous leadership of Sonja Flores, House Farmworkers! is now being led by Daniela Ramirez, a resident of Oxnard with a strong history of working closely with farmworkers. HF! will continue to serve as a great resource to the community to address this important issue, and will continue to hold a seat at the Alliance as an important stakeholder and collaborator. Finally, as VAFA nears the end of the year, the group is now focused on prioritizing action for 2013 around the following topics: Regulations, Labor, Water, Land Use, and Ag Education. These themes have arisen as priorities for VAFA through a combination of Summit feedback, internal stakeholder interest, and input from community and former VAFA members. The results of prioritization exercises that occurred within VAFA throughout 2012 will set the stage for VAFA’s work in 2013 and beyond. Anyone interested in learning more about VAFA or our current and future activities are invited to visit R EPOR T ON 2012 A C T IVIT IES OF T H E VEN T U R A C OU N T Y A G F U T U R ES A LLI A N C E | 7
  8. 8. Appendix: 2012 Agricultural Summit Participant List Betsy Chess Central Coast Farm & Ranch Participants Ron Clark California Association of Food Banks Virginia Clarke SAFSF Anne Coates Cachuma Resource Conservation District Tim Cohen Rancho Temescal Andy Coker Limoneira Company Nancy Conk Cabrillo Economic Development Corp. Jean Coronel Port of Los Angeles Sally Cortenbach Growing Grounds Nursery Camarillo Andrea Crawford Kenter Canyon Farms Bonnie Crouse UC Santa Barbara Sandy Curwood Ventura Unified School District Paula Daniels Office of LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Carole Davis Rabobank Mario de la Piedra Barkley Insurance & Risk Management Ann De Martini Farming Independence Jose De Soto University of California Hansen Trust Tom Deardorff Deardorff Family Farms Robert Dedlow Kenter Canyon Farms Darcy DellaFlora Wells Fargo Alexa Delwiche LA Food Policy Council Affiliation James Abing Steve Adler Corona Seeds Saul Aguilar Reiter Affiliated Companies Ben Alaniz Rabobank Kim Albright Whole Foods Market Martin Anenberg Fresh Point Southern California Norman Arikawa Port of Los Angeles Claudia Armann McCune Foundation Rich Atmore RA Atmore & Sons, Inc. Laura Avery Santa Monica Certified Farmers Market Emily Ayala Friend’s Ranches Jody Baker Groundwork Coffee Ruth Ballin Ballin Marketing & Public Relations Yissel Barajas Reiter Affiliated Companies Griff Barkley Barkley Insurance & Risk Management Marjie Bartels Bartels Ranch Thomas Beardsley Beardsley & Son Inc Paulette Beardsley Beardsley & Son Inc Jeanne Benitez Food Share Merrill Berge Camarillo Sustainable Growth Jan Berk San Miguel Produce Daniel Desales Agriculture Science Academy/ FFA at Santa Paula High School Scott Beylik Beylik Farms Chris DeVan Food Share Andrew Bibian A&M Flower Growers Jan Dietrick Rincon-Vitova Insectaries Andrew Bibian Sales Bridget Dobrowski SAFSF Jeff Biddle Whole Foods Market Jane Donlon Waters David J. Donlon Ranch Bev Bigger Farm Credit West Chris Dryden Mission Produce David Binkle Los Angeles Unified School District James Dubois Reiter Affiliated Companies Mike Binsley Crop Production Services Suzy Dyer Cummings Ranch Patrick Bishop Wells Fargo Ashley Eaton Whole Foods Market Joanie Blaxter Art Bliss Alise Echele Ventura Unified School District Don Bowden Reiter Affiliated Companies Harold Edwards Limoneira Company Joey Briglio City of San Buenaventura Dulanie Ellis Walk Your Talk Productions Katie Brokaw Wells Fargo Bank Fred Ellrott Ventura Co. Certified Farmers’ Market Ellen Brokaw Brokaw Ranch Company Roxanne Estrada Camarillo Acorn Julia Bulla Land Use Consultant Julie Fallon Cachuma RCD Elsa Burton Wells Fargo Dave Fausset Mission Produce Eric Cardenas Ag Futures Alliance Ventura County Carolyn Casavan San Fernando Valley Green Team Anthony Felix Agriculture Science Academy FFA at Santa Paula High School Susan Caughey Fig Tree Farms Bethany Filter Rabobank Elaine Cavaletto Rancho Cream, Inc. Robin Finnerty Farm Credit West Brett Chandler Associates Insectary Jill Fioravanti Derek Chavez Corona Seeds Sonja Flores House Farmworkers!
  9. 9. Appendix: 2012 Agricultural Summit Participant List Susan Kleine Rancher/General Agriculture Production Participants Affiliation Cheryl Knight Santa Clara Valley Bank Alex Flores Agriculture Science Academy/ FFA at Santa Paula High School Robert Knight Inland Orange Conservancy Mary Ann Krause VC Civic Alliance Clare Fox LA Food Policy Council Arne Freeman Dynamic Pastures Robert Krimmer Arnold LaRochelle Mathews VanConas & Zirbel Katerina Friesen Oxnard City Corps John Krist Farm Bureau of Ventura County Marci Frumkin Whole Foods Market Jeff Lambert City of San Buenaventura Bill Gallaher County of Ventura - Board of Supervisors Jose Landey United Staffing Associates Amy Lassere American Red Cross Kevin Genovese Museum of Ventura County Carol Lawrence Ventura County Star Jared Godinez Pacific Coast Business Times Linda Le Brock Pacific Coast Business Times Peter Godinez Xerox Leslie Leavens-Crowe Leavens Ranches Henry S. Gonzales Agricultural Commissioner - County of Ventura Dr. Robert Levin Ventura County Public Health Anne Graumlich Museum of Ventura County TG Liyanage Rabobank Laura Gregory California Strawberry Commission Guest Food Share Gwen Gulliksen Thomas Lloyd-Butler Lloyd-Butler Ranch Stewart Lockwood Limoneira Company Harvest Sensations Kathy Long County of Ventura - Board of Supervisors Gus Gunderson Limoneira Company Armando Lopez Ventura County Fairgrounds Stacey Hall Label GMOs Sarah Losoya KeHE Distributors Lori Hamor Food for Thought Ojai Jim MacLellan Port of Los Angeles Justine Han Ventura County Star Barbara Macri-Ortiz Jane Handel Edible Ojai & Ventura County Claud Mann Edible Ojai & Ventura County Carol Haverty CA Native Plant Society, Channel Islands Mary Maranville CREEC Region 8 - Ventura County David Martinez Marz Farms Mary Alice Henderson Rancho Abuelos John Mathews Arnold LaRochelle Mathews VanConas & Zirbel Joe Henderson R ancho Abuelos Sheila Mayfield Farming Independence Martin Hernandez Ventura County Meggan McCarthy Cesar Hernandez Reiter Affiliated Companies James McGee American Red Cross Alex Herrera City of San Buenaventura Jim McGee Red Cross Steve Hirashima Reiter Affiliated Companies Christina McGinnis EDC Kathleen Hughes Kiesercon Brianne McGrath Flying M Ranch Jane Hulse Central Coast Farm & Ranch Roz McGrath Ventura County Community Foundation Glenda Humiston USDA Rural Development Tom McGrath Flying M Ranch Eric Hummel Oxnard City Corps Phil McGrath McGrath Family Farm Nichole Ipach CSU Channel Islands Joanne McGrath McGrath Family Farm Jill Ireland Brown & Brown Insurance Helen McGrath Ag Innovations Network Joseph McIntyre Ag Innovations Network Totally Local VC Rose Hayden-Smith Debbie Jackson Ben Jertberg Southern Pacific Farming Katt Merrick Pat Kelley Farm Credit West Elise Kelley Santa Clara River Watershed Conservancy Josephine Miller City of Santa Monica, Office of Sustainability and the Environment George Keossaian Dynamic Pastures Tim Kilcoyne The SideCar Restaurant Glenn Miller Saticoy Lemon Association Mike Mobley Progressive Land Management, Inc.
  10. 10. Appendix: 2012 Agricultural Summit Participant List Mark Satterberg Participants Affiliation John Moore Ventura County Star Melissa Sayer Arnold LaRochelle Mathews VanConas Zirbel Ken Mumford Boskovich Farms, Inc. Ryan Nasalroad Limoneira Company Anita Nelson Four S Ranch Doug Nelson MainStreet Architects + Planners Mike Newman Corona Seeds John Nichols John Nichols Gallery Don Nishiguchi Whole Foods Market Sarah Nolan Abundant Table/Join the Farm Tiffany Nurrenbern Roots of Change Steve Offerman County of Ventura Lindsey Oks Whole Foods Market Dana Olsen Pacific Coast Business Times Joaquin Paez United Staffing Associates Eric Palacios United Staffing Associates Deborah Parker Linda Parks Ventura County Supervisor Nate Peitso Maggie’s Farm Anthony Pena Wells Fargo Tracy Perez United Staffing Associates Tim Perez Party Pleasers Susan Petty Petty Ranch Richard Pidduck Santa Paula Creek Ranch Dan Pinkerton Pinkerton Ranch Susan Pinkerton Pinkerton Ranch Josh Pinkerton Pinkerton Ranch Barbara Quaid Ventura County Fairgrounds Gina Quattrochi LA Food Policy Council Hugh Ralston Ventura County Community Foundation Carmen Ramirez City of Oxnard E.J. Remson The Nature Conservancy Jim Roberts Underwood Ranches Larry Rose Brokaw Nursery Jonathan Rosen Michael Rosenberg Evolution Fresh David Ross Mabry Family Limited Partnership Karen Ross California Department of Food Agriculture John Roulac Nutiva Robert Roy Ventura County Agricultural Association Mayhew Samuel Oxnard Lemon Association Jeannette Sanchez-Palacios Assemblymember Das Williams Leticia Sandoval Community Roots Garden Farm Credit West Chris Sayer Petty Ranch Karen Schmidt SOAR Kara Seward Office of Senator Fran Pavley, SD 23 Camarilla Shafer Lloyd-Butler Ranch Allison Sheffield David Shumaker Kiesercon Dave Smith United Way of Ventura County Bryan Spangle Dynamic Pastures Josh Spies The Nature Conservancy Brian Stark Ojai Valley land Conservancy Nancy Stehle Alicia Tharp Ideal Seafood Dana Thomas Index Fresh, Inc. Kathleen Thompson Limoneira Company Bob Tobias Tobias Son Gonzalez Tomas Limoneira Company Fred Van Wingerden Pyramid Flowers, Inc. Rae Vanseenus Whole Foods Market Rigoberto Vargas Ventura County Public Health Lily Verdone The Nature Conservancy Patricia Verdugo Johnson University of California Miriam Volat Ag Innovations Network Brandon Walters Cavalo Ned Waters David J. Donlon Ranch Bonnie Weigel Food Share Christy Weir Ventura City Council Gail Weller Brown House Farmworkers! Robert Wemischner LAUSD locally grown produce program Karen Wetzel Schott Ventura Co. Certified Farmers’ Market Monica White Ventura County Star Ron Whitehurst Rincon-Vitova Insectaries John Whitman Old Creek Ranch Andrew Wiemers California Strawberry Commission Anne Wilder Allyn Associates Ross Wileman Mission Produce Margaret Wilson Green Book Discussion Group Mark Winegar Santa Clara Valley Bank Damon Wing Office of Linda Parks Ryan Wooden Whole Foods Market Kristofer Young Ventura Chiropractic Massage John Zaragoza County of Ventura - Board of Supervisors
  11. 11. Thank You to Our Sponsors Agricultural Commissioner - County of Ventura Limoneira Company University of California - Hansen Trust Reiter Affiliated Companies Pacific Coast Business Times Ventura County Star Farm Bureau of Ventura County Kenter Canyon Pinkerton Ranch San Miguel Produce The Nature Conservancy Ventura County Community Foundation Brokaw Ranch Company Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation Crop Production Service Edible Ojai Ventura County Index Fresh, Inc McGrath Family Farm Petty Ranch Progressive Land Management Santa Clara Valley Bank Save Open Space Agricultural Resources Whole Foods Market R EPOR T ON 2012 A C T IVIT IES OF T H E VEN T U R A C OU N T Y A G F U T U R ES A LLI A N C E | 11
  12. 12. For more information: AG INNOVATIONS NETWORK A non-profit organization dedicated to helping stakeholders solve problems in the food system through effective collaboration. 707-823-6111 | 805-886-0355 |