As we recap what the Bounty was able to accomplish this year, we have to recognize that this year was unlike any year in our recent history. As a farm-based community food security project, the Bounty offers a unique perspective to advocacy efforts. We drive for organizational, institutional, and governmental policy that benefits both low-income consumers and food producers with a systems lens toward strengthening our local food system.
This year, we advocated on city, county, state, and national levels to keep farmers’ markets open and considered essential for our communities as we navigated the early stages of the pandemic. We drafted the farmers’ market safety protocols with market managers, solicited input from all regulating bodies, and supported our markets to stay open and safe for everyone. We educated the public and regulators on what changes our markets made to respond to evolving health considerations and concerns. Click here for a detailed blog post of our actions.
Suzi Grady was selected as a member of the State-wide California Department of Food and Agriculture Certified Farmers’ Market Advisory Committee (a two-year term) and had the opportunity to share concerns about COVID regulations with California Secretary Ross. She will continue working with farmers, market vendors, market staff, and regulatory agencies to address regulatory issues that unfairly burden small scale farms or undermine accessibility of locally sourced food.
Beyond farmers’ market advocacy, we were able to continue advocating for and pushing local agencies to incorporate our local food producers in disaster management plans and reimbursement initiatives for more comprehensive and long-standing recovery and resilience. Suzi Grady took the voluntary position of Co-Chair of the COAD (Community Organizations Active in Disasters) Food Group and Farmworker Hunger Task Force. Part of our advocacy work in this area looks like championing a Regional Food Coordinator Model as an addition and change to the County Emergency Operations model. A version of what this model could look like is shown below:
Lastly, Grady has held a leadership role in the Sonoma County Food System Alliance as part of the Coordinating Committee and lead on policy work. She has been integral in advocating that the County General Plan update and the Five Year County Strategic includes crucial elements of the Food Action Plan, available here.
We want to make sure all stakeholders have a greater voice in their local food system, that feedback is solicited regularly and effectively, and that everyone understands the impact of policies on our communities. Although not a primary pillar of our work, Petaluma Bounty steps up to advocate when we see a void in representation or that policy change is the necessary tool to move community solutions forward. By listening and leveraging applied experiences, we elevate concerns from our community to appropriate agencies, and we cannot do it without you.
(All farmers’ market pictures courtesy of Paige Green Photography as part of our Faces of the Market campaign.)