Ninety-plus of the most passionate, well-spoken, and yes, sometimes opinionated folks gathered at Walker Creek Ranch on November 13 to represent the needs and opportunities for Marin’s agriculture. Everyone contributed in group sessions, setting the direction and priorities for continued success on our farms and ranches. The complete compilation of ideas, which the participants shared that day, will be available shortly in the Summit summary notes. Here is a sample of the suggestions and concepts put forth.
The day started with 16 small Agricultural Café discussions of five to seven people each discussing and answering the question: “Where do we want Marin agriculture to be in ten years - for you, your family, your products, and the county?” Responses included: having the true value of food be understood and supported; local, sustainable, organic; and “We want ag in Marin County to be united and prosperous and supportive of one another.”
There was also time for livestock, dairy, row crop, and processors industry-specific group discussions. Each of the four groups compiled a list of seven key ideas for future attention. Examples from each group include:
• Dairies - Streamline permitting process for green energy projects or allow beta test without permits.
• Livestock - High-speed Internet for marketing and
• Processors - Shared packaging and distribution facilities on the 101 corridor.
• Row Crops - Work experience, career pathways, and on-farm training.
To wrap up the day, participants again worked in the small Agricultural Cafés to answer the question,“What are the most important initiatives and ideas that will help us collectively reach our goals?” The result is a list of initiatives and preliminary steps for implementation. Examples include:
• Develop a “Grown in Marin” label - (1) Explore what other regions are doing around local labeling, and (2) determine criteria for local labeling.
• Streamline agricultural project permitting - (1) Provide additional county staff education, and (2) support and add more capacity for project review and approval.
Next steps will include putting time lines and partnerships to these initiatives so they are implemented. This will be started by sharing Summit results with those of you who could not attend and with other potential partnering organizations in Marin and even beyond.
Again look for the summary notes, as well as video capture of the day to be available soon at the Summit website (http://ucanr.org/sites/2010AgSum2/). In closing, a very sincere thank you goes to all Summit participants, Partners & Sponsors, as well as the Table Hosts, Facilitators, and Moderators for making the Summit possible.
-- David Lewis, UCCE Marin/Farm Advisor.