The members of the Sonoma County Food System Alliance submitted public comment in support of community food production to the Petaluma General Plan Advisory Committee – Open Space & Natural Resource Workgroup.

Date: 6/14/2022

To: Petaluma General Plan Advisory Committee Open Space & Natural Resource Workgroup

From: The Members of the Sonoma County Food System Alliance 

Re: Public comment re community food production & urban ag for the City of Petaluma 

General Plan Update

We submit this public comment to the Petaluma General Plan Advisory Committee on behalf of the Sonoma Food System Alliance, a coalition of diverse stakeholders working to envision and create a healthy, sustainable, local food system through leadership and collective action. Our members bring a broad base of experience and knowledge to advance our local food system and community. We urge the City of Petaluma to support community food production in their general plan update. We welcome you to use as a resource the goals outlined in the Sonoma County Healthy and Sustainable Food Action Plan, created by the Sonoma County Food System Alliance (SCFSA) and endorsed by Sonoma County Board of Supervisors in October 2012.

Urban agriculture is one of the many facets of sustainable community food production. Urban agriculture consists of the cultivation, processing, and distribution of agricultural commodities (goods) in city and suburban settings. Urban agriculture does not have a singular look but can take many forms including school, backyard, rooftop and community gardens in open spaces like parks or empty lots, hydroponic facilities, and vertical production. Urban agriculture projects work to enhance the environmental, economic, and social health of the communities they serve. 

Farmers and community members collaborate to create a local, sustainable, and self-reliant food economy that improves access to adequate, nutritious, and affordable foods. These efforts contribute to a community’s economic development through food and agriculture-related businesses that create jobs. Community collaboration within urban agriculture production has the ability to educate residents on their local ecosystem and creates the opportunity to be an active and direct participant in the food system. 

Urban agricultural production fosters community resilience by actively working to combat community food insecurity by enhancing the accessibility of local food options. Access to healthy whole foods improves diets and nutrition which is critical in promoting public health and the prevention of diet-related diseases like obesity and diabetes. 

Local food production serves as a security net to food access as we face climate change-related vulnerabilities. Sustainable community food production can reduce our carbon footprint by increasing carbon sequestration and can cut down transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions. These same efforts encourage local biodiversity that can provide pollinator habitat, groundwater recharge, climate regulation, and soil regeneration which all contribute to ecosystem services. 

It is the responsibility of local governments including the City of Petaluma to advocate for the well-being of their constituents. Supporting community food production like urban agriculture commits to providing adequate, nutritious, affordable, and culturally appropriate foods to its residents. The benefits of local food production encourage the economic, social, and environmental vitality of a given community. Advocating for community food production is a pledge to community members and future generations that ensures a just, secure, and sustainable food system. 

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