By Julie Hutcheson
Although the Valley of the Hearts Delight moniker has long been replaced by that of Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County is still home to almost 1,100 farms and ranches. These farms and ranches are at the heart of our local food system – that which encompasses all efforts to produce our food and bring it to our table.
With a population of 1.8 million and growing, how do we strengthen this system to ensure its health and our own into the future? This is the focus of the newly released Santa Clara County Food System Assessment. The report is the endeavor of the Santa Clara County Food System Alliance. Committee for Green Foothills has been a member of the Alliance since its inception and played a lead role in the development of the document. Along with our fellow Alliance stakeholders, we are seeking innovative and collaborative solutions to address issues of healthy food access, agricultural production, and food distribution in Santa Clara County.
The Assessment is the first step in identifying ways in which to improve the short and long-term health of our food system. It established a number of key findings and recommendations. Farmland protection and limiting expansion of city boundaries were two of the 16 recommendations to come out of the report. With 55% of the county’s remaining farmland at risk of being developed over the next 30 years, protecting the farmlands we still have is essential. CGF has worked on this issue for decades and is pleased to have more focus brought on the need to better protect this limited resource.
Other recommendations include ways to increase agricultural viability, improve purchasing and consumption of locally grown foods, increase CalFresh enrollment and healthy food access, plan for food production in urban areas, and address ways to reduce and recycle food waste. An Assessment Summary highlighting important elements from the report, including the key findings and recommendations, is also available.
Of course, CGF will be part of the Alliance’s on-going effort to respond to the needs and opportunities uncovered by the data and recommendations, and engage local leaders and the public in understanding their impact on the food system.
We encourage everyone to read the report so that they too can have a positive impact on the future of our food system.
CGF’s Environmental Advocate, Julie Hutcheson, is a lead author of the Santa Clara County Food Assessment.