By Dayna Ghirardelli, Executive Director
The crab feed is an event that I’ve rarely missed, even though I do not eat seafood. While most look forward to enjoying the crustacean, it is the camaraderie, networking, and local flare that I’ve always found to make this event so great. To have experienced it from this side is quite overwhelming. The depth of support and generosity from within our county is humbling. When I really take a step back and take in all facets of this event, I’m almost in disbelief at how blessed I am to live here… Sonoma County. I humbly admit that I have taken my home for granted considering the gem that is my backyard. However, as the Executive Director of the Sonoma County Farm Bureau, I am reminded of its bounty and beauty daily and so I’ve vowed to make this my playground.
Without delay, I booked the Dutton Orchard Estate home through 5starvr.com to spend a weekend there with some very dear friends to relax and reset. They are the very kind of friends whom I can rely on in every aspect. We love to spend time together but find that time passes us by on account of our busy lives so now and again we book a weekend away to decompress by laughing, eating, drinking, and sharing stories; we put our busy schedules on hold. This time, we chose a staycation in Graton and it did not disappoint! We went wine tasting, and we brought wine and food produced in Sonoma County to enjoy for the weekend. The house was very comfortable and well-appointed for any mood. While we stayed over a cold, rainy weekend, the backyard with a pool, fire pit, and multiple sitting areas is calling us back for a summer getaway. Just before going our separate ways, we had a conversation about the blessing that Sonoma County is. They lamented multiple times that the local experience needs to be enjoyed more often. That buying and supporting local is an integral component to keeping our beloved Sonoma County the way we love it. There are so many gems around our county that we may not even know about so we should take the time to explore and support our neighbors.
While the weekend was a quick one, it was just what I needed to get ready for another busy week. Our departing conversation was an indication of why I love working for the Farm Bureau and it gave me added motivation to buckle up for the various county-wide projects ahead, starting with the proposed update to the Local Coastal Plan.
In the coming months, Permit Sonoma staff will be presenting proposed changes to the Local Coastal Plan (LCP). There are various areas of concern within the proposal, but one of the greatest concerns is the use of the term “agricultural enterprise” to classify the validity of agriculture and its uses. While “agriculture enterprise” is not identified in the glossary of terms of the LCP, it is used in several Sonoma County Code of Ordinances.
Sec. 26-04-020. Definitions
- Agricultural Enterprise. An operation of a property owner/operator that derives their
primary and principal income from the production of agricultural commodities for commercial
purposes, including but not limited to the following: growing of crops or horticultural
commodities; breeding and raising of livestock, poultry, bees, fur-bearing animals, horses;
agricultural processing; and preparation of commodities for market. An agricultural
enterprise excludes boarding of horses, forestry and lumbering operations, and commercial
transportation of prepared products to market.
Given the size and rate of local production, most livestock operators do not and cannot rely solely on their livestock operations to make a living. Due to market pressures, cost of production, and basic economics, such as cost of living, other income is necessary. Therefore, the legitimacy of one’s agricultural operation should not have to be identified by its level of income. If we assume the definition from the other ordinances is applied to the LCP, we can be certain that the majority of existing agriculture operations in the coastal zone, especially livestock, will be discouraged, albeit eliminated. This is only one piece of the proposed LCP that is concerning so it is imperative that we are at the table to protect agriculture on the Sonoma County Coast. It is advocacy efforts like these that we must take up to protect our backyard as we know it.