Sonoma County Land Access and Farm Business Viability for Limited-Resource Farmers Study (2022-23)

The Land Access and Farm Business Viability for Limited-Resource Farmers: Assessment of Conditions and Opportunities in Sonoma County is being produced for the Sonoma County Ag + Open Space District (Ag + Open Space), with input from diverse Sonoma County agricultural stakeholders, and in partnership with Sustainable Agriculture Education (SAGE) and University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE). The purpose of the Study is to provide Ag + Open Space with information to help it prioritize and manage current and future investments related to the land access and farm business viability needs of beginning and limited-resource farmers in Sonoma County. The Study will draw from the approach and assessment tools used in the SAGE- CA FarmLink Coachella Valley Study (2021). 

Study Objectives

  1. Describe, and connect Ag + Open Space with, the beginning and limited-resource producers who currently farm in Sonoma County. The Study will develop a typology of these producers by capacity, experience, and needs relating to land access and farm business viability. The Study will also describe producers who aspire to farm and/or might consider farming in Sonoma County, to the extent feasible.  
  2. Determine which land access models, including but not limited to those described in the SAGE-CA FarmLink Study are currently in use in Sonoma County; are most suitable for the various types of limited resource producers in Sonoma County; and are most appropriate for implementation by Ag + Open Space and/or other partners. Describe challenges and opportunities around implementation of these models in Sonoma County. 
  3. Create an updated property-scale assessment framework that can be used in the future to help make objective determinations of suitability of properties for land access for limited resource farmers.
  4. Identify and assess five parcels, using an updated property-scale assessment framework, in terms of their suitability for the models and types of limited resource producers identified by the Study. The near-term goal of this assessment will be for Ag + Open Space to pilot a buy-protect-sell process with at least two parcels.
  5. Produce recommendations that are actionable, feasible and have broad support.