As we reflect on Kitchen Table Advisors’ 5-year anniversary this January 2018, we have been inspired to appreciate and give respect to the people, businesses and organizations that we stand on the shoulders of in fueling the economic viability of sustainable small farms and ranches.
Our piece of the puzzle - helping a diversity of farmers and ranchers more equitably access the business tools, resources and support they need - builds on the hard work and legacy of hundreds before us. Our work would not be meaningful without the struggles and achievements of pioneering farmers and ranchers, organic produce distributors, natural food grocery stores, chefs and restaurants honoring farmers, farmers markets, farm incubators, technical assistance providers, policy and advocacy groups, philanthropists and foundations, and more. Our focus on the economic viability of the next generation of sustainable farmers and ranchers only matters in the greater context of a healthy ecosystem that supports land, markets, financing, regulations and ecological farming practices for farmers and ranchers.
Since our inception, Kitchen Table Advisors’ work has drawn inspiration, knowledge, talent and resources shared by many leaders in the sustainable food and agriculture movement. We wouldn’t be here if we had not had the privilege of connecting with, learning from, and forming formal or informal collaborations with the following:
- Organic family farming and sustainable ranching pioneers like Full Belly Farm, Swanton Berry Farm, Straus Family Creamery, Joe and Julie Morris of Morris Grassfed
- Organic produce distributors like Veritable Vegetable, and regional food hubs like Coke Farm, Capay Valley Farm Shop and FEED Sonoma
- Natural food grocery stores like Bi-Rite Market and Good Earth
- Farm to table chefs and restauranteurs such as Jesse Cool at Flea St. Cafe, Karen Heisler at Mission Pie, Anthony Myint and Karen Leibowitz at The Perennial
- Farm incubators and training grounds for beginning farmers like ALBA and CASFS at UC Santa Cruz
- Regional sustainable food and ag technical assistance providers, convening groups, and policy groups like CalCAN, CAFF, CCOF, EcoFarm, Farms To Grow, Farmer Justice Collaborative, Cooperative Extension, Marin Organic
- Nonprofits that run farmers markets like CUESA and the Ecology Center
- Farmer-focused lenders such as California FarmLink, Farm Service Agency, and Farm Credit, Slow Money
- Land trusts preserving agricultural land such as MALT and POST
- Conservation and regenerative agriculture focused groups like Carbon Cycle Institute and local RCDs
- Farms and ranches whose land-based programs influence and shape the field of regenerative and sustainable agriculture, such as Pie Ranch, TomKat Ranch, and Paicines Ranch
- Individuals whose influential roles in the space have transcended the institutions in which they’ve worked, such as Esther Park, Poppy Davis, Tony Serrano, and Bill Fujimoto
- Sustainable food and ag nonprofits in other parts of the country that have influenced who we are, such as Hudson Valley Agribusiness Development Corporation, Coastal Enterprises, New Hampshire Community Loan Fund, Vermont Farm Viability Program, Holistic Management International
- Local economic development nonprofit leaders in other sectors, such as La Cocina, Inner City Advisors, El Pajaro CDC, and Opportunity Fund
- Values-aligned funders such as Sallie Calhoun, Heather Blackie, Gaia Fund, 11th Hour Project, RSF Social Finance and more
Kitchen Table Advisors was originally conceived to build upon the important work that many before us have done for decades; to add another piece of the puzzle that complemented the work of others; to join the fight and hopefully make our regional sustainable food and ag ecosystem.
As we reflect on our ecosystem and a bigger picture collective vision for a more equitable, resilient and healthy regional food economy, we are so grateful to know that we are all in this fight together, and that we all have an important role to play, individually and as part of the collective.
We know there are many challenges ahead of us - including racial equity and representation in the movement, the need for stronger pipelines of talent into the field, the need for additional financial resources to do the work.
And, we are so grateful for the work done before us; for the shoulders that Kitchen Table Advisors stands upon; for your partnership in this journey; for the opportunity to join this fight 5 years ago and to continue pooling our people, financial and social capital for the collective fight for years to come.
Photo by Jonathan Fong