Public Awareness & Support of Marin Agriculture
Where We're At
A prominent theme in each of the six focus groups is the continued need to increase public awareness in Marin around local agriculture, its multitude of benefits to the community, and the challenges faced by farmers and ranchers. Many Marin citizens are informed about the benefits of buying local, eating fresh and healthy food, and appreciating the preserved open space agriculture affords our landscapes. As Loren Poncia put it in the livestock focus group, “The educated affluent consumer here in the bay area wants to know where their food comes from and who grows it.”
Where We Could Be
So, how can Marin producers, processors, retailers, and agricultural support agencies, reach out and engage the greater community to support our objective of working toward a vibrant future for agriculture in Marin County?
Excellent ideas were brought up in the Pre-Summit focus groups. At the Summit we hope to generate more ideas and determine steps for implementation. Here are a few suggestions from the focus groups that we will expand and refine at the Summit:
- Continued public education on the importance of buying local farm products through farm tours; video, television, and internet outreach; a book of photos and family stories; and local press. In the words of Anna Smith Clark from the retailers focus group, “People want to go back in time, to know how cheese is made. They admire farmers.”
- Having farmers teach about farming.
- Education about the importance of buying local in light of the true costs of production.
- Creating a regional identity with the unique local history of West Marin and our local coastal flavor.
- In-store signage and education - such as local labels and charts breaking down issues - for both local consumers and tourists looking to try something unique to our area. As Jolynn McClelland put it in the dairy focus group, “People are smarter about food, but you also have to make it easier on them. We need to advertise local, make it pop out.”
- Education around seasonality and products that people are not used to seeing and preparing.
- Incentives to encourage product production and sales in the North Bay.
- Ensuring ample and easy outlets where educated consumers can purchase local products.
- A Public Outreach Summit in east Marin to communicate our message from the November Summit.