A four-point plan to protect and promote food grown and raised on Santa Barbara County’s 700,000 agricultural acres made its public debut on May 24 on the courthouse steps. Making up a small handful of the 200 volunteers who sowed, informed, and composed the 100-page Santa Barbara County Food Action Plan over the past two years, its executives — including Foodbank of Santa Barbara County CEO Erik Talkin — dove to the core of keeping county agriculture, valued at $1.5 billion annually, thriving as the future grows with uncertainty.
In the face of drought, a fluctuating global market, and challenges associated with immigrant labor and growing disparities between the riches of a year-round growing season and the nutritional deficits of the working poor, the plan urges top-to-bottom investment in the county’s food economy, including training, education, and preferential purchasing policies, plus updating infrastructure. Secondly, all walks of society — from employers and teachers to doctors and policy makers — are encouraged to promote healthy living with the very latest information on diet and nutrition. The plan also calls for investments at a community level, from neighborhood grocery and gardening hubs to increased housing resources for food-system workers. Lastly, the plan takes a big-picture look at the preservation of the county’s foodshed, and urges long-view stewardship of land and water resources while reducing emissions and food waste.
The Santa Barbara County Food Action Plan can be viewed at sbcfoodaction.org.