In early March, Sweet Wheel Farm, a local 6-acre farm in Summerland, launched the Save Summerland Farm Campaign to preserve and protect farmland in Santa Barbara County. Learn more about Sweet Wheel Farm and how they became a critical community resource increasing food security in the Summerland community.
The Farm attended a hearing in which the Carpinteria School District brought the farm property in front of the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission to request the disposal of the farmland for development. This land had been willed to the Summerland School in 1955.
During this hearing, Sweet Wheel Farm requested more time to organize and raise funds to purchase the land. The request to take the sale of their leased property off the consent agenda was delayed until November 2021.
SBCFAN produced a storytelling to elevate the story of Sweet Wheel Farm’s Food Action Plan goal activation. Sweet Wheel Farm leveraged the video on the Save Summerland Farm website as a tool to connect viewers to learn more about their work and fundraising needs. Watch the Building food resilience with Sweet Wheel Farm video.
With two months to raise two million dollars, the Farm worked to increase awareness about their fundraising and advocacy campaign through social media, outreach at farmers’ markets, and community gatherings on the land.
Santa Barbara Permaculture Network began tabling at every Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Market in early August to promote the Save Summerland Farm campaign. “They were pretty instrumental in believing in this campaign and what we are trying to accomplish,” said Leslie Ryan.
The Save Summerland Farm campaign successfully raised $2 million and on August 25th the Carpinteria School Board accepted their bid to secure the farmland for their nonprofit, The Santa Barbara Agriculture and Farm Education Foundation.
The Santa Barbara Agriculture and Farm Education Foundation becomes fiscally sponsored by the Santa Barbara Foundation. Founder Leslie Ryan, owner of Sweet Wheel Farms, launched the nonprofit to educate and empower the next generation of farmers to ensure food security for all communities.
The Santa Barbara Agriculture and Farm Education Foundation collaborated with the County of Santa Barbara and Adams Angels to feed 600 veterans on November 11th. Together, they prepared a farm fresh Thanksgiving meal and plan to host more dinners in the future. Read more.
Future plans for activation:
Building Out the Farm
- Currently, designing an orchard that will serve as a fire break between the hillside and residential properties.
- The Farm will also create bicycle pathways across the farm and outline where a wide variety of crops will be planted.
Increasing Access to Fresh, Nutritious Foods for Veterans
- The Santa Barbara Agriculture & Farm Education Foundation will be adding a food pantry at the Veterans’ Memorial Building Santa Barbara to provide nutritious, organic foods for the local veteran community.
- “SBCFAN’s impact was huge. Not only did the storytelling video help our cause of solving the food desert in Summerland, but it also created a family of food action.
- “The Save Summerland Campaign was a community collaboration that resulted in the preservation of 6 acres of farmland to address food insecurity, provide food access to residents, and promote best practices for land management such as dry farming and creating fire breaks.”
- “Success would be that we continue to implement regenerative practices on the farm, grow foods that the community wants, and provide farm-fresh food so that we can solve nutrition insecurity in Summerland.”
- “This new farmland project includes an educational component so the next generation will gain hands-on experience and learn the value of organic and regenerative food.”
- “We are creating a farm where as a community, they engage with it, are a part of it, and benefit from it.”
From a conversation with Leslie Ryan