San Diego County Food Vision 2030 is a 10-year strategic plan for food system development in San Diego County, and will serve as a model for metropolitan communities around the country seeking to build an equitable and sustainable food system.

Currently in its 18-month development process, San Diego County Food Vision 2030 will be presented as a final report in December 2020, with an online interactive dashboard for tracking progress of key performance indicators over time.



A food vision (sometimes called a food action plan, or food strategy) is a community-driven strategic plan that assesses how we grow, distribute, consume, and manage disposal of food. While each community tailors the plan to their specific needs, most share two common elements: they capture the aspirations of the community around food, and they identify concrete things that can be done to improve the policies, programs, and individual actions that shape how food moves from farm to plate.

San Diego County Food Vision 2030 will be presented as a final report in December 2020. It will not be the first report of its kind: We are fortunate to stand on the shoulders of other municipal food policy councils and their food plans and strategies before us. Check out Vermont Farm to Plate (2009) and Santa Barbara County Food Action Plan (2016) as two examples of food strategies that are now being implemented in their respective communities.


San Diego County Food Vision 2030 will consider all aspects of the food system, from seed to table to compost heap and back again.

San Diego County Food Vision 2030 takes a systems approach to food policy and planning. This means considering all aspects of the food system, from seed to table to compost heap and back again.

In many ways, San Diego County’s food system is already very robust. Citizen interest in our 44 certified farmers markets, community gardens, urban farms, beekeeping, backyard hens and other community food projects has never been higher. With more than 400 certified organic farms, our County is home to more certified organic growers than any other county in the nation. Grassroots coalitions are actively engaging residents around a wide range of food system projects and activities.

However, in spite of the strong foundation of food system assets that San Diego County enjoys, there are a number of gaps and vulnerabilities. Across San Diego’s neighborhoods, there is considerable variation in socioeconomic and demographic conditions. Adding to these challenges are disturbing trends across the United States, including a growing income gap, social polarization, hunger, poverty, unaffordable housing, rapid consolidation of agriculture resulting in loss of small- and mid-sized farms, decline of local fishing heritage and small commercial fishing operations in coastal communities. These issues, coupled with global pressures including climate change and increasingly distant food supply chains means that bolstering the resilience of San Diego County’s food system is critical.

The importance of creating a coordinated food strategy for San Diego County is not only a response to vulnerabilities and challenges, but equally in response to the recognition of what food brings to the County. Food is an issue that galvanizes communities and catalyzes action like few other topics can. If produced, managed, and consumed responsibly, greens the environment, promotes biodiversity, contributes to the local economy and provides countless opportunities for education, social inclusion and community-building. For all of these reasons, the time for San Diego County’s ten-year food vision is now.


+ Project Phases

Time Phase
June - December 2019 Research and data collection
January - July 2020 Public outreach and defining goals and objectives
August - December 2020 Finalize report and develop indicator dashboard

+ Project Leaders

Sona Desai, Associate Director, SDFSA | Sona has been working to advance sustainable and equitable food systems for more than 20 years. She has a background in organic farming, food marketing & distribution, farm business development, and is recognized nationally as a leader in food hub and community food systems development. Prior to joining SDFSA, Sona served as Director of Food Systems Development at the Leichtag Foundation and Associate Director of Coastal Roots Farm in Encinitas. She moved to California after working at the Intervale Center in Burlington, VT, for ten years, where she was also actively engaged in the Vermont Farm to Plate Network and Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA).

Scott Sawyer, Consultant | Scott Sawyer grew up in Southern California before being charmed away to Vermont, where he was the lead author, editor, and designer of Vermont's Farm to Plate Initiative while working at Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund. His work has included researching, analyzing, writing, editing, evaluating, and designing for a variety of food system, renewable energy, forest products, and sustainability programs and projects, including Vermont's Farm to Plate Initiative, the Community Energy Dashboard, and the Vermont Bioenergy Initiative. Scott has a PhD in sociology from Washington State University. He is happy to be back in sunny California and eager to help strengthen San Diego's food system.

Elly Brown, Executive Director, SDFSA | As the Executive Director of SDFSA, Elly manages the network, operations, programs, development, and administrative matters of San Diego Food System Alliance. Elly began her role at the San Diego Food System Alliance as a Facilitator in 2015 and transitioned to lead the organization as a staffed Director in 2016. Under Elly’s tenure, the San Diego Food System Alliance has increased its organizational revenue by tenfold, expanded the network to over 120 groups, and launched 6 Working Groups. Elly enjoys the ability to contribute her business and consulting skill set to a cause she loves, food and community.

Margaret Chiu, Communications & Events Associate, SDFSA | Margaret's curiosity and passion for food were passed down to her by her immigrant parents and grandparents. She has always cherished the way growing and sharing food connects human beings to their heritage and back to the Earth. In her role as Communications & Events Associate at SDFSA, Margaret strives to tell individuals' stories from across San Diego’s diverse food system, from seed to table to compost heap and back again. Margaret views her job as a responsibility to illuminate the intersection of food issues with systemic social issues. Prior to joining SDFSA, Margaret worked in marketing and business development for diverse sectors spanning life science, commercial real estate, international development and recreation.

+ Process Committee

Coming soon!

+ Get Involved

Expert Interviews

Over the next six months, we are interviewing experts in various food system topics, ranging from equity to food production to processing to retail to waste management and more. Realistically, we cannot get to every expert in the field and are using our Process Committee's best discretion to select diverse subjects from both within and beyond our network. If you would like to be considered for an interview, follow us on Facebook and Twitter for announcements.

Bimonthly Public Forums

San Diego Food System Alliance will host a series of bimonthly Public Forums on Food Vision 2030 topics, beginning in Fall 2019. We may share previews of the report, interview excerpts, research snippets, and more. Stay tuned for dates, locations, and event details to be announced soon.


Current Phase: Research & Data Collection

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Until December 2019: We are starting with gaining a clear understanding of the current “state of our food system.” Food Vision 2030 consultant Scott Sawyer is currently doing extensive research, data collection, and expert interviews to bring vague trends of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in San Diego County’s food system into crisp focus. This period of Research & Data Collection will explore every aspect of the food system, including Food Production, Equity, Food Waste Prevention, Climate Change, Food Processing & Manufacturing, Retail/Consumer Demand, and Education & Workforce Development.

SDFSA will share outcomes of our research and expert interviews in a series of bimonthly Public Forums, date and location TBD (stay tuned for the announcement).

Beginning in January 2020: In the next phase, SDFSA staff will work in partnership with other local coalitions on launching a public engagement process. A number of creative formats will be used to gather feedback that will shape the proposed San Diego County Food Vision 2030, including roundtable discussions, storytelling-themed public events, health and education fairs, and targeted outreach to diverse communities. New media, including social media and a blog, will also be used.


We are excited to begin the 18-month development process for San Diego County Food Vision 2030 in June 2019. We invite community participation and multi-sector collaboration. Please look forward to outreach from our team and stay up-to-date with our communications by subscribing below. Thank you!