Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Ag touted as part of new economy’s Farm-to-Fork movement

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RUTHSTALLER BEER founder Jan-Erik Paino talks with Kristine Mazzei, left, chief operating officer and managing partner of Valley Vision, and middle, Meg Arnold, CEO of Sacramento Regional Technology Alliance. Democrat photos by Krysten Kellum

From page A13 | November 01, 2013 | 25 Comments

Marketing the Sacramento region as a future food exporting dynamo was one item on the agenda last Friday when members of the Sacramento Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce ended a two-day study mission with lunch at the Smith Flat House.

As they munched on artisan pizzas and salad made from locally grown ingredients while sipping wine from Madroña Vineyards, an audience made up of business, educational and government leaders listened as two different panels discussed the economic future of the region.

An important part of that vision derives not only from the Sacramento region’s reputation as a major food-producing area but as the Farm-to-Fork capital of America — a movement that encourages delivery of food directly from farmer to consumer.

Increasing agricultural exports are being touted as part of what’s called the “Next Economy” — initiatives that revitalize the region’s economy through regional branding, investing in infrastructure, workforce development, incubating entrepreneurs, and strengthening local agricultural enterprises of all kinds.

Panelist Kristine Mazzei, who is the COO and managing partner of Valley Vision, a nonprofit consultant group, said one of the strengths of the region is agriculture and food related businesses. “Forty percent of the land in the region is in agricultural use, generating $3.5 billion in economic output,” she said. We are also fortunate to have resources like UC Davis for agriculture related research, she added.

Panelist Tim Johnson, president and CEO of the California Rice Commission, noted that food is a $7.5 billion industry in the state. “Of the top 20 exported crops grown in California, seven come from the Sacramento Valley, including wine, rice, tomatoes, almonds, seeds and dried plums,” Johnson said. “Over half of many of these crops are exported every year.” He went on to note that in 2011, El Dorado County generated $36 million worth of agricultural products alone. But there is continuing pressure on farmers to sell their land to developers, cautioned Johnson. To keep the land in food production, he suggested implementing a program that allows farmers to sell their development rights as well as changing inheritance taxes so small family farms don’t have to be sold when the patriarch dies.

Meg Arnold, the CEO of the Sacramento Regional Technology Alliance, talked about innovations happening in agriculture. As examples she cited 9-year-old Nicolas Come, of Nicolas’ Garden fame, who invented an app to encourage kids to eat healthier. Come started developing the app at the Hacker Lab, which was one of places the group toured. Henlight, another invention, is a solar-powered light for small-scale henhouses that promotes higher egg production. Then there is California Safe Soil, which turns food waste into commercial grade fertilizer in three hours. The plan is to work with supermarket chains to help them dispose of food waste by turning it into a useful product.

Talking about farming from a different perspective was local farmer Maryann Argyes, who is the chair of the EDC Community Economic Development Advisory Committee. She touted Apple Hill as an excellent example of a different way to market agricultural products. “We do not export commodities, we import tourists and it’s a model that’s very successful,” said Argyes.

She went on to say that rather than being large-scale commodity farmers like many in the Sacramento Region, those farming in this area are “boutique agriculturalists,” with 95 percent of Apple Hill’s members either working full-time at something else or retired. “We are different but complementary,” Argyes added, saying that Apple Hill’s members are working on growing different crops throughout the year to attract a continuing stream of tourists who visit as much for the experience as for the food.

David Parkes, president/CEO of ParkCon, went on to discuss the Next Economy, saying there needs to be more capital investment in new clusters of economic activity. “We’re the (state) capital and we should be leaders in these initiatives,” he said, adding that the Sacramento region is ranked 22 out of 250 foreign trade zones in the United States and is a model for the city of the future. However, he warned that the area is not business friendly and that needed to change if it’s to attract more companies.

Picking up on that theme was Laura Gill, city manager of Elk Grove, who discussed how government can help improve the economy. Saying that one of the biggest challenges faced by businesses is the lack of access to capital. She said her city invests its money in community banks in order to facilitate that access. “We put $6 million a year into three local banks,” she said, adding that the cities of Folsom and Galt do likewise. “This is putting our money where our mouth is.” Gill also suggested approaching pension organizations about investing more of their funds in California and lowering the cost of doing business in the state but doing it in such a way that preserves the quality of life in the area.

The panel discussion wrapped up with leaders discussing how they could implement what they had learned during the two-day tour.

Matt Sumida, who is director of the chamber foundation, said the purpose of the tour was a chance for people to see what the region is doing and to identify the best collaborative opportunities. “It’s appealing is to see what’s going on in the region and it broadens people’s perspective of what the region is doing well,” he added.

Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.


Discussion | 25 comments

  • Foaming at the MouthOctober 31, 2013 - 1:42 pm

    Paging Fran Duchamp to rant about Agenda 21, non-profits, trails (one goes right by Smith Flat House), and some meeting one time in Pollock Pines where nine people showed up.

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  • (ʘ_ʘ)October 31, 2013 - 2:28 pm

    FatMouth is getting something off his chest. Better now?

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  • James E.October 31, 2013 - 1:47 pm

    Fran's voice is needed.

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  • Foaming at the MouthOctober 31, 2013 - 10:53 pm

    Wow, Foaming has a new stalker!

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  • Fran DuchampNovember 01, 2013 - 8:33 am

    Foaming at the mouth...learn how to read..then Ill get back to you. Agenda 21 is a document. People who dont read make it is just a document. Parks and trails--I still havent told you the players. As far as trails...fix the old ones...but anything on Pony--you have to flatten it--in order to be up to ADA you not like the trees? Nonprofits...some are actually still trying to do the right thing...ask Harper about Castlewood last night...lots of angry people--and she announced at a meeting that Dave had given her the go ahead. lololol....oh my...cant even make this stuff up.

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  • Fran DuchampNovember 01, 2013 - 8:45 am

    I am going to help start people (foaming) on simple research. In your address bar (the blank space at the top of your browser (google, bing, fox...whatever) Place this basic boolean serch wording " next economy/agenda 21." ----> learn to taught in school Or "UN/next economy." Sorry I was busy yesterday--as I am this morning. but leave your questions at the door...and ill try to come up with a pleasant answer to all the lying being done--by people who really have not done their homework.

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  • Foaming at the MouthNovember 01, 2013 - 9:42 am

    Believe me Fran, I have read plenty to know how out to lunch the Agenda 21 Truthers are. Save your condescension for someone else.

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  • Fran DuchampNovember 01, 2013 - 1:37 pm

    Foaming--I believe it was you that called me out. as far as agenda 21...once again not really sure what you are do acknowledge there is United Nation right? It is one of their documents.--thats it. "Paging Fran Duchamp to rant"--yep it was you that called me out....

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  • Foaming at the MouthNovember 01, 2013 - 2:11 pm

    Fran, if you don't believe that The Agenda 21 Boogeyman is coming to stack and pack us into re-education camps and steal our FREEDOMS then I apologize for the mistake.

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  • Fran DuchampNovember 01, 2013 - 2:33 pm

    Foaming...stack n pack would be developers. Education has been going towards distance learning for awhile (if you went to the broadband meeting in Pollock--the presenter even said this was true.). Common Core is not a "new" idea...just the testing online component and behavior is really new. A re-education camp? I cant even respond to that one. The way of education (which is already happening) is "distance learning" learning at home with a comp and a skype program. any other questions? I have always said what is happening with not making up anything--it is there--it is

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  • Fran DuchampNovember 01, 2013 - 2:45 pm

    Now foaming --for my opinion on the last items. As an educator--I disagree with distant learning. I believe in the public school system. I believe children working together in a classroom can have great benefits. I support homeschooling because parents should have the right to choose. I am from Los as low income--means no one is really going to put any "love" in them. People supporting them will probably never live in them. Lolololl they are sometimes promoted as "fruit loops"--a bowl full of colors...they are ugly (sorry for the laughter.)

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  • Fran DuchampNovember 01, 2013 - 2:58 pm

    Re-education camps...I looked this up--are you asking about FEMA camps? I had not heard of these until you brought it up. Reeducation camps--usually were concentration one was being reeducation...they were not coming out. Reeducation camps " It's paying people to do work on behalf of government," said the Minnesota Republican. "I believe that there is a very strong chance that we will see that young people will be put into mandatory service. And the real concerns is that there are provisions for what I would call re-education camps for young people, where young people have to go and get trained in a philosophy that the government puts forward and then they have to go to work in some of these politically correct forums." Well foaming--now im concerned and will read more.

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  • Foaming at the MouthNovember 01, 2013 - 4:14 pm

    We'll, Fran, it looks like no apology was necessary.

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  • Fran DuchampNovember 01, 2013 - 4:30 pm

    foaming--Im okay with that. On reeducation camps--I personally still do not know or understand them to reply. The quote was scary...but I just started looking at both sides of that story. Why that term is used seems horrible. As far as nonprofits...there are very good people out there. Some become power hungry...they like to be in control of a group of people and ideas. The more groups they are in--the more power...please remember the word "some."

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  • rodNovember 01, 2013 - 11:03 pm

    Foaming, heard about the new proposed national park soon to happen? “The proposed Rim of the Valley National Park is not just hiking trails along the crest of the mountain ranges around Los Angeles as some would have you believe. It is the federalization of nearly 500,000 acres of the Angeles, San Bernardino and Los Padres National Forests and includes — under threat of eminent domain and aggressive regulation — and confiscation of private property … approximately 170,000 farms, ranches and homeowners. This National ‘Park’ will convert hundreds of thousands of now accessible National Forest acres into locked up National Park lands with the roads you now enjoy closed off. Combined with the adjoining Park Service, Santa Monica National Recreation Area (NRA), it will be two-thirds the size of Yosemite National Park. Congress has little or no understanding of the impact on the economy, energy conservation, private property owners and loss of local control. Foaming, maybe a little less MOUTH and a little more RESEARCH… you might discover what UN Agenda 21 is about… or maybe U prefer denial? And I’m being nice.

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  • Karl HegenNovember 02, 2013 - 8:16 am

    Foaming's official list of Bad Words not to be spoken in public has at the top Agenda 21. Government types being really sharp folk work out that they can get away with calling it comprehensive planning, growth management or smart growth ........... a thorn by another name, and all that.

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  • rodNovember 01, 2013 - 11:54 pm

    Fran, In the ‘80s’ there were producing prune trees, peaches and apricots, almonds, pears and tomato fields as far as the eye could see across this valley. From Oroville clear to the Sacramento River and beyond to winters, and south to Modesto was mostly agriculture. CA agriculture made this state the 6th largest economy in the world… that is until the ESA was invented, then the water wars from urban sprawl. Next was the progressive tax structure that eliminated the smaller farms and ranches. Then environmental regulations forced… no extorted… farms into ‘partnerships’ with government, along with conservation pressure further diminished agricultural productivity. Now we have a tiny enclave of producers, an agricultural remnant. A once thriving economy reduced to farmers markets and boutique produce outlets. Farm to fork sounds like too little too late, the nerve of some folk thinking they have ‘created’ an industry. And tourism… really? It sound like freekin Egypt… but they still have the pyramids.

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  • Fran DuchampNovember 02, 2013 - 9:03 am

    I agree Rod...I believe that people are creating a new order--one that I personally do not agree with and I will fight back. what some view as the 21st century--I view as a way to control the masses--hopefully some will wake up in time. So much propaganda is being used to market items its stunning...and people are buying into this. I dont get it. I have watched manipulated numbers on a pretty graph bring people to "oooo" "ah" is really interesting to watch people buy into what is being said. At one meeting PMC said they couldnt "design" more...too expensive....really? Someone needs to buy them a box a crayons....actually I have an extra box. I can see what is happening in the friends are fighting back in Los Angeles.. My family said more and more "condos" are going up in very strange places. As far as Agenda 21 (using the idea of helping the poor--who doesnt want to help the poor...outside of Placerville council)--it is a document that is being used to guide something that has gotten out of control...changing the name...doesnt hide what some really wealthy people are doing. Someone wants to rule the world--some rich get bored. Carbon trade--air (emissions) being traded for comps. (money)

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  • Fran DuchampNovember 02, 2013 - 9:14 am

    Rod as far as farm to fork...look at the picture above of Maryann Argyes--she is CEDAC. CEDAC is putting out the false numbers--deciding what is "best" for a whole. She is basking in the power being given to the economic groups (someone needs to tell her--its false power) she represents all the money being used to seed worthless projects. $100,000 for a web portal. Place " Visit El Dorado County" in the address bar...and you have thousands of possibilities. If the county hits a certain population number--it will not be rural any longer. Grants for rural will no longer be an option. "Urban" grants are being looked at...developers want in to make money period. Harper one time wrote basically...say what you will not hurt me or CEDAPP--when did nonprofits get that kind of power? Im very aware of these groups saying they reinvented the wheel--a couple of groups in my space keep trying to do that...and it is sad.

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  • Fran DuchampNovember 02, 2013 - 9:17 am

    "Visit El Dorado County" About 3,180,000 results

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  • Fran DuchampNovember 02, 2013 - 4:19 pm

    "Farm-to-Fork " is not a new concept...I never remember my grandma saying heres your dinner (fresh stuff from the garden) then throwing it on the floor--I believe she gave me a fork to eat with. I was right--spoke with her sister (who is 93) she said they were farming and eating their product with forks since she could remember (except for fruit--basically they just bit into it.)

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  • EvelynNovember 02, 2013 - 4:58 pm

    Fran: What an astonishing gran you had. To think that she managed the farm to fork thing without a 501(c)(3) to lay it all out for her. I'd love to know the salaries of all these people presently learning what your gran already knew. Laura Gill (mentioned above) was paid $280,364 in 2011. I'll bet we've got a couple million $$$$s of talent in this one festivity alone.

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  • Fran DuchampNovember 02, 2013 - 5:55 pm

    During the depression my grandma said she made more than most--$5.00 a month. She farmed--made clothes and quilts--taught crafts--and the big payoff was wiping down ceramic ashtrays for a company to finish them for firing. she eventually made enough to bring two kids and a second husband to southern California. Where she bought--fixed up--and sold homes...made crafts....and lived life. For a short period her and my grandfather made parts for war airplanes being used overseas. She never threw anything out. Her social security was $495 a month when she passed--but she said her house was paid for...and she owned everything in it. She had a small savings to pay off her wishes at the end. She told me to tell everyone that she had a great life--that she even had fun at times. She wanted no memorial.

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  • Fran DuchampNovember 02, 2013 - 6:04 pm

    Since we are here and it will annoy some people ....the hobbit house on Pony. 6232 Pony Express has been zoned multifamily? <----just appeared like this. The new owner has yet to give the young tenants who moved out their $1000.00 deposit. It now has a sign out front--new listing by Pollock Reality. It was that a store would go down stairs...and tenants behind and up stairs. The apartment behind was condemned--no windows or a quick way to leave. More and more signs going up on Pony--more rezoning happening. People are mad that those young people have not been paid their money...and they left it clean. Didnt even know it was for sale--none of us knew. Landlords have a responsibility to work with their tenants...the one who lived downstairs lived there for 14 years. Good people should be treated as such. Maybe its time rules for tenants up here should be revisited. Any tenant rights lawyers want to make some money? This is a great case.

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  • Fran DuchampNovember 02, 2013 - 6:17 pm

    Guy who bought the hobbit house...Duane Lyons of Granite Bay, a longtime investor...give the young people their money already...geese. and who is playing with you--so you get opportunities before they are really being advertised? Interesting.

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