We want to live in a world where the food we eat is produced locally and/or by small-scale, sustainable, community-owned enterprises. We also want to see many more opportunities for people to create rewarding livelihoods working in the production of food.
SELC’s Food Program provides education, research, and advocacy to create food systems built on small-scale, community-based, sustainable enterprises.
Our food system is not well served by today’s predominant food business models, which incentivize growth, shareholder profit maximization, absentee ownership, and exploitation of resources. The ownership and governance structures of an enterprise largely determine the motivations that drive it. Large, centralized food producers are usually driven by financial bottom lines, to the detriment of more important ends: the survival and sustainability of our food system and the provision of sustainable livelihoods to people working in the food system. The cornerstone of SELC’s work on sustainable food production is the belief that food enterprises should be owned and/or controlled by the local communities that depend on them.
SELC’s Projects and Resources:
Legal Resource Library: UrbanAgLaw.org is a free online legal resource library that provides important legal information, best practices, and supporting tools for urban agriculture in North America. Urban gardeners use UrbanAgLaw’s clear and accessible information to navigate the often dense and complex legal topics surrounding personal, community, and commercial urban ag. Policymakers use UrbanAgLaw as a framework for better legislation and a path to more sustainable economies. Lawyers use UrbanAgLaw to inform and prepare themselves for urban ag-related practice. Its topics include zoning laws, building codes, homeowners associations, health regulations and many more.
Workshops: SELC partners with the Green Collar Communities Clinic (at the East Bay Community Law Center) and Students for Economic and Environmental Justice to put on workshops about legal topics related to start-up food justice enterprises. The next Legal Eats workshop will be on Saturday, March 9. Check back here soon or email communications@theSELC.org for more information.
Click here to see all 14 videos from our most recent Legal Eats workshop in West Oakland!
Legal Guides: We’re almost finished developing a legal guide for start-up food enterprises. Check back here soon for a free download of the guidebook.
Legal Services: SELC has advised over 72 farmers and food enterprises along with our partners at the Green Collar Communities Clinic (at the East Bay Community Law Center) and Students for Economic and Environmental Justice.
We are now offering free legal advice sessions more regularly through our Resilient Communities Legal Cafe and we sill soon offer legal services to a very limited number of clients on a sliding scale basis.
California Homemade Food Act: SELC helped to draft the California Homemade Food Act, which passed in 2012. Click here to find out more. SELC has also conducted research on laws in many U.S. states that allow for the limited sale of homemade food .
California Neighborhood Food Act: SELC is working to pass a law in California that prevents cities, counties and homeowners associations from prohibiting urban agriculture within reasonable limits. Click here for more information.
SELC’s Refugee Farmer Project: In and around Fresno, CA, approximately 1300 Hmong and Lao refugees operate small family farms. SELC is working with this community to address common employment law barriers encountered when the farmers engage in cooperative farming practices and involve family and friends in the labor of their farms. SELC prioritizes these employment law issues because they are key legal barriers in the creation of sustainable localized economies, and they impact communities far beyond Fresno. For more information, on this project, see SELC’s Work in the New Economy Program.