California leads – again – in Green Growth and Sustainability (title)
Two conferences taking place simultaneously in the state capitol of Sacramento this week showcased the sophistication in forward-thinking development of sustainability in California: the 2nd California Agritourism Summit and The Green California Summit and Expo.
State Agritourism Summit – Planning the Future
The public is ready to visit California farms and ranches, especially for traveling families who want to educate their children about food systems, sustainability and create connections with the land.
The Agritourism Summit was well attended by more than 150 people – a diverse group made up of farmers, current agritourism operators, county and state planners, non-profits, tourism and convention professionals, veterans organizations – under the guidance of UC Cooperative Extension Small Farm Program under the direction of Penny Leff.
The goals of the summit including building awareness and understanding of successful local and regional networks that benefit agricultural producers and communities, and to connect agritourism operators, the larger tourism community and county staff and officials. Other goals included the promotion and sharing of successful agritourism activities and marketing efforts and to help producers learn to collaborate across regions by developing a statewide framework for agritourism communication and collaboration.
Peter Ruddock, representing SlowFood-California, was an active participant. Ruddock said, “I believe that some of the best outcomes was the possibility of California Agritourism Association – a body that lets the stakeholders have a voice. And the suggestion for a bill to define and possibly regulate agritourism.”
Leff said, “The advocacy proposal for creating a limited liability law to protect farmers who offer agritourism as other states have enacted. We heard a lot about what people need to make this work, including a better connection with mainstream tourism and with rural county supervisor.”
The interactive core of the program were roundtable breakout sessions on the following topics:
1. County permitting and regulations
2. Association development and sustainability
3. Regional tourism connections
4. Marketing and promotion opportunities
5. Statewide advocacy and policy
6. Liability, ADA and insurance
7. Developing successful agritourism activities
Green California Summit & Expo
The ninth annual Green California Summit and Exposition took place at the Sacramento Convention Center on April 7-8, 2015. More than 1,700 attended the Summit and Expo, including many from state and local government and schools. The Expo exhibited offering green products and services from more than 91 companies that manufacture products ranging from zero emission vehicles to building materials. With the theme “Green Paths to Economic Growth,” the Summit highlighted innovations in the green practices and technology that fuel California’s expanding economy and the fulfillment of the governor’s mandate on sustainability with special emphasis on water conservation.
Keith Miller, conference coordinator and publisher of Green-Technology.org, said, “This year’s conference was larger and better attended than ever before. Next year’s 10th anniversary conference, also happening at the Sacramento Conference center on April 21-22, will be a landmark event.”
Thirty-one sessions led by expert practitioners covered topics including energy and water conservation, clean transportation and Prop 39 implementation; some were for AIA credits, others were for LEED certification. One of the highlights of the show was the Green Auto Mall and Clean Transportation Pavilion to look at the latest vehicles, EV charging solutions and more, and especially the world premier of conference sponsor First Priority Bus Sales’ full size, all-electric school bus.