|This vision statement, developed for the People’s Food & Farm Project, represents a synthesis and culmination of many conversations, interviews, focus groups, roundtables, and surveys. It describes the future Bay Area residents want to see as if it has already come to be. It will remain evergreen, continuing to evolve as it should with democratic input from our communities that it represents.|
A Bay Area where food is a human right and everyone can produce, access or afford nourishing and culturally-relevant foods that are appropriate to our needs and healing to our bodies.
To carry out the People’s Vision for Food Sovereignty in the Bay Area, a regional food and farm agency that is rooted in community serves the nine-county Bay Area and is supported by permanently organized communities. The agency is transparent and accountable to the people.
It has stable and consistent sources of funding, much of which is passed through to individuals and organizations in the Bay Area. It is governed by a board that includes representatives from regional agencies, city, county, and tribal governments (regardless of federal or state recognition), and the community. Community representatives — including food and farm workers, Indigenous land trusts, food policy councils, academics, and tenants— have a supermajority of the voting power, with no fewer than two community members from each of the nine counties.
Community representatives are nominated by residents and community-based organizations, and are well-compensated for participation in this decision making body, which brings together people from all cultural backgrounds and ages. Non-voting advisors from outside the region and federal agencies may provide technical assistance. Term limits for commissioners prevent the agency from being captured by corporate interests.
The agency has one or more regional offices in each county that residents can visit to request resources, information, education, or other assistance near where they live. Additional satellite offices in local community gathering places, such as in grocery stores, bring paid staffers to the community seven days a week, increasing access to resources.
The regional food and farm agency has dedicated and consistent funding for neighborhood assemblies that create permanently organized communities empowered to determine regional and local food policy. The agency funds community groups for outreach and other overhead costs to effectively reach all members of each community and assess community needs. Communities engage in participatory budgeting and direct substantial funding to meet local priority community needs.
Overarching Guiding Principles
- Policies and programs developed for “residents of the Bay Area” prioritize and are accountable to all communities harmed by systems of oppression.
- Indigenous Peoples “exercise sovereignty,” advising the region on land stewardship, informing the types of projects that are developed, and giving free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) to projects and practices that impact their lands, waters and territories, in accordance with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
- The Bay Area is “accountable to the land” by preventing or reducing environmental degradation, replenishing the local ecosystem, and following the leadership of peoples indigenous to these occupied territories.
- The Bay Area’s “zero waste economy,” means that high quality food is grown and made here, and is used to nourish residents and workers and financially support small and local Bay Area businesses. All communities within the Bay can easily access locally-grown fresh produce and locally-made, culturally-appropriate food.
- The Bay Area’s food system policies and practices elevate values of collective care and reflect the larger goal of “dismantling white supremacy.”
- “Disability Justice” means centering and equitably incorporating the diversity of peoples’ abilities into all aspects of the Bay Area food system. Visible and non-visible disabilities do not hinder access to free, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food, employment or living wages.
- “Language Justice” means that all businesses and institutions in the regional food system either (a) provide written materials and services in each of the languages spoken in the Bay Area or (b) provide interpretation and translation services. Language is not a barrier and does not hinder access to free, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food, employment or living wages.
- “Economic Justice” means there are fair employment opportunities and living wages for farmworkers and all workers in the Bay Area food system.
- The Bay Area food system adopts the “precautionary principle” and requires that when the safety of any chemical ingredient or additive, including fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides, is questioned by evidence of community impacts or scientific study, it is immediately banned until proven safe.
- “Regenerative practices” are those that replenish rather than deplete local ecosystems and provide good, fair and family-sustaining jobs.
- “Sustainability” means preserving the capacity of our region to produce the food needed for its residents to thrive.
Popular Education Policy: Increase food knowledge for self-determination and food sovereignty.
The regional food and farm agency provides financial and other material support to community organizations, nonprofits, small and mid-sized local businesses, county and local agencies, schools, and other institutions to deliver educational resources that are responsive to community needs.
At local community gardens, community food hubs, and other sites, everyone in the Bay Area can access free, hands-on, and culturally appropriate educational resources that build capacity to grow food and make health-giving eating choices. Both online and in person, residents can increase their gardening skills and easily access education about drought-tolerant, climate-resilient, native plants and pollinators. Formerly vacant lots are repurposed for community learning spaces, building upon existing community knowledge and strengthening community cohesion as residents teach each other their skills, learn new skills together, and share new learnings with their neighbors.
To build awareness of educational resources, the agency uses communication tactics that meet people where they are to reach as many community members as possible. Door-to-door canvassing, a user-friendly website, and a call center direct people to local resources, and uplift organizations that provide food education.
All local and regional government agencies and food providers receive training on how to be responsive to community needs in respectful, collaborative and equitable ways.
Operations: Regional food redistribution network eliminates food waste.
The agency establishes and operates a regional food recovery program with transport, storage, refrigeration, and rapid distribution. It is made up of dense, neighborhood-based networks and regional distribution centers. All edible food is easily rerouted and repurposed to nourish those who need it most while it is still good to eat, at reduced cost or for free. All non-edible food waste is diverted from landfills through composting.
People are able to use their food benefits to purchase food at reduced cost that meets their dietary needs from local sources. Businesses and nonprofits that serve community needs receive ample funding, and support for food recovery and distribution.
In collaboration with local and county agencies and community organizations, the regional food and farm agency supports periodic distributions of free food. The agency also implements a food distribution plan for emergencies that addresses the needs of urban, suburban, and rural consumers.
Strong mutual aid networks enable local communities to support themselves so that no one goes hungry for lack of food or finances. Community-driven networks of free food distribution sites and services support people with foods that are nutritious, dietarily and culturally appropriate.
Strong Communities: Community Food Hubs
Community Food Hubs are stationary or mobile, with large refrigerators and dry storage areas. Local grocers, restaurants, catering services and farms deliver fresh food for community members to purchase at affordable prices or take for free. Food hubs also promote and support composting, lend out farming tools, share non-GMO seeds, and host classes on growing food.
They serve food-insecure neighborhoods in places accessible to residents, such as near grocery stores or in community resilience hubs. Food hubs are community-owned and cooperatively managed. With consistent funding support from the regional agency, paid staff run hub operations, community outreach and education, and coordinate with other community service providers to support those who are homebound or have limited mobility and transportation options.
Some hubs are also community kitchens and dining spaces that are accessible to everybody who is able to gather, giving communities resources to collectively cook and eat nourishing foods appropriate for their bodies, cultures, and lifestyles. They can serve as incubators for small, local food businesses that lack access to their own brick and mortar kitchens. Food hubs can also provide a base for mobile or in-house humane butchering for small-scale animal husbandry.
Schools: Nutritious Meals, Gardens & Food Education
All public schools have good food purchasing requirements so that all school food contracts provide children with fresh, nutritious, high quality and culturally appropriate meals.
All school sites have actively maintained, pesticide-free, edible gardens for children’s hands-on education. Food harvested from school gardens and nearby farms, ranches, and fisheries is integrated into meal plans.
Gardening education is woven into the regular curriculum with secured funding for additional staffing. Curriculum can include, but is not limited to, food production and cooking, Indigenous foodways, land and local history, on-site composting, and rainwater catchment. The agency collaborates with school districts and local farms and ranches to facilitate student field trips and hands-on educational opportunities.
Policy: Support small and mid-sized farms and businesses to build community economic resilience.
In every neighborhood, numerous community-owned food businesses and worker-owned cooperatives, including farms and fisheries, contribute to increasing community wealth and food access.
The agency provides direct and reliable funding with low barriers to access, increases awareness of other sources of funding, assists farmers and business owners to apply, and collaborates with state and federal grant programs to make their funding more accessible. Abundant subsidies help lower overhead costs for small, local food businesses and food service providers. Equitable low-interest or no-interest loans are easy to access and not dependent on credit scores.
The agency also provides wraparound support– including legal, accounting, and technical assistance. The agency also amplifies and coordinates the efforts of new and existing institutions able to provide this support. Small and mid-sized farmers receive ample funding, education, payment for ecosystem services, and other resources to support regenerative farming practices.
Land Access: Remove barriers for small and mid-sized farmers.
The agency fosters multiple pathways to land ownership and stewardship. It is easy for anyone who wants to farm sustainably to do so and to remain in place with stable land tenure. Small and mid-sized urban, suburban and rural farms increase in number and thrive due to increased funding and new zoning laws. Community land trusts, lease agreements, cultural easements, collective ownership models, affirmative conservation easements, and other strategies are used to increase land ownership for people of color, give land back to Indigenous Peoples, keep land affordable, and preserve land for regenerative farming.
Policy: Increase market access and reduce risk for small and mid-sized farmers and fishers.
The agency reduces as much risk as possible for small and mid-sized farmers and fishers—both within and near the Bay Area— to ensure sustainable food is produced in the region. In addition to promoting community supported agriculture, the agency uses forward contracting, crop insurance and local purchasing targets to enable farmers and fishers to become economically viable while using practices that replenish local ecosystems. With predictable demand and funding, they are able to provide the fresh and culturally appropriate foods that regional customers seek.
Farmers and fishers have access to increased storage, transport, and processing capacity, and other shared resources which enable them to cooperatively bundle and sell their products with other small producers. People in jails, prisons, juvenile halls, schools, hospitals, and other large institutions receive quality, nutritious, and fresh foods through contracts that support local farms, fisheries and restaurants.
Strong Communities: Land Stewardship & Connection to Land
Peoples indigenous to the Bay Area have full ownership or stewardship rights over all public natural land and water in the Bay Area. Equitable partnership agreements between Tribal nations, Indigenous land trusts and public agencies give land back and provide support to Indigenous People, as requested.
Regional community conversations grapple with intertwined histories and ongoing legacies of stolen land and people. The goals of these community conversations are repairing racial relations, coming into reciprocity, reparations for unjust practices, and actualizing the rights of displaced people to return to their communities.
All communities are in a deeply reciprocal relationship with the lands and waters where their food comes from.
Policy: Support community gardens and edible landscapes.
With financial support from the agency, both new and existing community gardens flourish. Low income and no-income residents garden for free, receive water bill subsidies, and learn to grow food. Within each neighborhood, there are many accessible community gardens that distribute and share food. Community gardens partner with public libraries, schools, community food and resilience hubs, parks, and recreation centers, to share free tools, seeds, compost, organic fertilizer, and other gardening supplies.
The agency guides local governments to efficiently make use of vacant lots and public right of ways to establish scores of new gardens, cleaning up toxic soils where needed. Indigenous people and the surrounding community determine the best use of vacant lots through deeply democratic processes that include participatory budgeting.
Shared gardening space and composting systems are established in new and existing multi-family homes. Where land for a shared garden isn’t available, residents receive resources for growing food with limited space, such as on balconies or in windowsills. There is ample, reliable support and funding for new sites to utilize rooftop, vertical, balcony, aquaponic and other gardening methods when arable land is restricted. Tax credits and fees incentivize both privately- and publicly- owned lands to contribute to the community’s well being and quality of life. Public parks have an edible landscape and residents are able to forage natural lands for native plants.
Bay Area Economic Practices: Labor & Economic Rights for All
The Bay Area increases the minimum wage to a living wage and passes a Universal Basic Income for all Bay Area residents. All businesses and institutions observe either a 4-day or a 30-hour work week, and are able to hire more people, giving everyone time to be in community, cook, and take self care.
There are plentiful opportunities for Bay Area youth, formerly incarcerated individuals, and other residents to access training for jobs in the food industry, union apprenticeships, and incubators for new entrepreneurs and cooperatives.
A combination of requirements for big businesses and incentives for small businesses ensure that all food workers and farm laborers receive dignified and safe work conditions, the right to organize and form a union, living wages, and benefits, including healthcare, access to quality food, clean water, bathrooms, personal protective equipment (PPE), mental health resources, protection from hazardous materials, shade and adequate breaks.
When a particular food & farm related industry fails to prioritize the health, well-being and just treatment of its workers, organized communities and their allies effectively boycott those products, along with other methods of activism, to correct such harms.
Food Access Policy: Cash benefits for individuals and dedicated funding for community organizations.
The agency sets aside a significant amount of its budget to provide cash benefits for individuals. It also provides dedicated funding and other support to local organizations providing food, so that all families in the Bay can easily access and afford nutritious, culturally relevant, and needs-appropriate food.
All lower income residents, regardless of citizenship status, receive direct cash transfers to increase food access. The cash benefits are unrestricted funds, not limited to benefit cards
If residents receive federal/state food benefits, the cash payments are additional. As residents’ incomes increase, the amount of cash benefits is slowly phased out; benefits are not immediately cut off after hitting a certain income level.
The agency permanently integrates and funds programs like the Double Up Food Bucks model program and others. These types of programs enable residents who receive food benefits to significantly increase their monthly food budgets. For every dollar they spend on produce, they receive between $1 to $5 dollars for additional produce at grocery stores, corner stores and farmers markets.
Policy: Regulate or subsidize the cost of basic necessities.
The regional food and farm agency regulates or subsidizes the cost of food, especially of basic staples, to ensure that high-quality, fresh produce and other basic necessities are available at every price point.
Policy: Ensure accessible meals and groceries.
The regional food and farm agency collaborates with local planning departments to ensure affordable, nutritious and culturally relevant meals and groceries are within walking distance, or accessible with affordable, reliable delivery services.
People have ample time to get, and have many options for, nutritious and nourishing food. Businesses hire more people and have more shifts so that business hours can reflect community needs. This includes full-service grocery stores, farmer’s markets, corner stores with fresh produce, restaurants, and food trucks.
More businesses and nonprofits provide appropriately tailored meals and groceries to elderly, homebound people and people with illness.
Funding is available for small mom and pop businesses to make all food business spaces accessible to community members of varying abilities. Larger and corporate food businesses are required to make their spaces accessible to all.
Policy Design: Intersectional & Dynamic Solutions
The regional food and farm agency collaborates with community-based organizations, tribes, local governments and other agencies to develop and implement multi-faceted solutions. Reflecting the intersectionality of conditions and needs, complex solutions support both individual and collective well-being. Solutions are tailored to each community’s needs, avoiding the one size fits all approach, and are dynamic, changing in response to varying community conditions.
Policy: Caring for Land & Water
The regional food and farm agency develops and implements a plan for the Bay Area food system that considers the differing ecological needs of the region and promotes regenerative ecosystem practices.
The Agency collaborates with other agencies to address the impacts of their plans and the entities and activities that they regulate. In collaboration with local and regional transit authorities and planning agencies, the Agency ensures there is an efficient, low-emission, or pollution-free infrastructure for food distribution and recovery.
The Bay Area protects land from further development and embraces traditional ecological knowledge, including prescribed burns where appropriate. The agency eliminates agricultural runoff and increases healthy agricultural land. Agricultural and non-agricultural pollution sources no longer contaminate the places food is grown or harvested such as gardens, farms, rivers and the Bay. Farming, fishing, and food industries use only practices and substances that maintain harmony with the air, water, and land.
Water bodies are restored to healthy ecological levels and groundwater aquifers are replenished. All farmers and communities have equitable access to water at affordable prices, and they sustainably use and replenish water sources. Significant investments in climate adaptation measures ensure that the Bay Area is resilient in the face of climate disasters such as drought.
Policy & Marketing: Regional food supply chain supports community health and safety.
The regional food and farm agency establishes a Good Food Purchasing program with targets for locally sourced food. Development of a positively branded regional food supply chain increases the visibility of high quality food that is locally and regionally sourced. Large positive and recognizable labels educate consumers about products grown, harvested, or made in the Bay that meet regional standards for nutritious and sustainably grown foods.
The agency provides subsidies for safe, nutritious foods and increases support for regulatory agencies charged with keeping food and farming free of harmful chemicals. Regional food and farm industries voluntarily phase out use of any harmful chemicals in food production and processing. A community-based watchdog program helps report and monitor for enforcement of existing regulations.
Policy: Equitable Housing
The regional food and farm agency collaborates with community land trusts and local governments to preserve and produce quality, safe, well-maintained, and affordable housing. With housing burdens and commute distances kept low, no one has to choose between nourishment and paying for housing. Local governments develop clear standards that encourage innovative and sustainable types of permanent living spaces and reduce housing, water and energy costs.
Speculative housing investments are replaced by collective and cooperative ownership models that treat housing as a community asset.
Strong Communities: Global Connections
Both private and public actors are incentivized to divest from practices, such as mining and fossil fuels, that are harmful to the land and Indigenous Peoples in international solidarity with food sovereignty movements worldwide.
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Cover Image: Tina, fast food worker gardening at Urban Tilth greenway in Richmond – URBAN TILTH GREENWAY GARDEN IN RICHMOND
Image 2: Stock photo
Image 3: Reem Assil, Palestinian-Syrian chef, serving food from Reem’s California restaurant. – BROOKE ANDERSON
Image 4: Students from La Honda-Pescadero Unified School District planting seedlings at Pie Ranch in Pescadero. – NANCY VAIL
Image 5: Food waste at an Oakland Farmer’s Market – FOOD SHIFT
Image 6: Urban Tilth food box delivery program in Richmond – JACKIE LEAL
Image 7: Farmers Cristóbal and Veronica in the potato block on the Brisa Ranch farm in Pescadero – COLE MAZARIEGOS-ANASTASSIOU
Image 8: Tina, fast food worker gardening at Urban Tilth greenway in Richmond – URBAN TILTH GREENWAY GARDEN IN RICHMOND
Image 9: Food workers from UNITE HERE 2850 and Fight for 15 join labor contingent against fracking – BROOKE ANDERSON
Image 10: Rosalba working the egg station at a Burger King in Alameda – BROOKE ANDERSON
Image 11: Tomato harvest at UC Berkeley Gil Tract farm – ELIZABETH HOOVER
Image 12: Vendors and shoppers at the Old Oakland Farmer’s Market – YOKO LEWIS
Image 13: Doria Robinson of Urban Tilth protesting outside of the Global Climate Action Summit 2018 in San Francisco – BROOKE ANDERSON