We want to live in a world where the food we eat is produced locally and 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 around our vision for a better food system.
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.
In order to maintain thriving regional food systems, farmers need to have long-term access to affordable, healthy farmland. Since farmland is a commodity in our economy, increasing development pressures and consolidation in agribusiness are causing farmland values to rise out of reach of most farmers. The two main threats to affordable farmland preservation are conversion, where the land is no longer in agricultural production, and consolidation, where the land is aggregated in the hands of the wealthy few and more likely to be damaged by industrial practices while being used to grow commodities for global markets instead of food for local communities. SELC's vision for farmland is rooted in the notion of the commons, that farmland is a common resource to be stewarded by farmers for their benefit and the benefit of society and the environment. Our mission is to develop and replicate economically, socially, and ecologically just legal models for long-term farmland stewardship as alternatives to conversion and consolidation.
Workshops: SELC partners with the Green Collar Communities Clinic (at the East Bay Community Law Center) and students at Berkeley Law School to put on workshops about legal topics related to start-up food justice enterprises. Information about upcoming workshops can be found on our events page.
Legal Eats Booklet: This guide, updated annually, provides an overview of information about various areas of law that affect food enterprises based and operated within California. Download it for free here.
Online Legal Resource Libraries: SELC curates several free online legal resource libraries that provides legal information, best practices, and supporting tools for food and farm enterprises, including UrbanAgLaw.org and CommunityEnterpriseLaw.org.
Legal Advice: SELC offers donation-based legal advice sessions for small-scale food enterprises and other community-based enterprises through our Resilient Communities Legal Cafe.
See the Resources for Food Enterprises page for much more!
All the latest and greatest updates from SELC's Food Program!