With the Santa Barbara Food Action Plan complete, what’s the action?

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After two years of research and countless volunteer hours, the Santa Barbara Food Action Plan is now complete. Headed up by the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, the plan strives to examine the opportunities and challenges of the county’s food system.

Stakeholders – government officials, farmers, health department workers, nonprofit leaders, etc. – came together to write and now implement the plan.

To find out how a hundred-page document is put into action, market host Katie Hershfelt spoke with Oscar Carmona of Healing Grounds Nursery, who had a hand in creating it.


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“This is the first time we’ve been able to get a holistic group to come together to talk about this issue,” said Carmona. Some parts of the plan address pressing needs, like hunger. Others address potential policy changes that would ensure Santa Barbara retains agriculture land despite the increasing pressure of development.

Keeping food in the county, he said, is at the center of the plan. A 2010 study by UCSB professor David Cleveland found that 99 percent of what is grown in Santa Barbara is exported, and 95 percent of the fruits and vegetables consumed in the county are shipped in from elsewhere. Writers have coined the phenomenon as”Santa Barbara Syndrome.”

“Agriculture is the number one revenue generator in the County,” he said. “We have year round growing opportunities here. To not take that as an important resource would be silly.

Carmona, who owns his own seedling nursery, says growing food at home is the easiest way to interact with the Food Action Plan as an everyday citizen.

“To me, it’s one of the most empowering things a person can do and, dare I say, may be even more important than who you vote for,” he said.