The mission of the Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation is for Sonoma County grape growers to be agriculture leaders in social sustainability through partnerships and programs that support the skilled agricultural workforce and their families who sustain farming in Sonoma County.
Role in Community
The Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation convenes and collaborates with community-based organizations and government agencies to identify resources, leverage support and design programs that improve the lives and support of local agricultural employees and their families.
- A lack of support for agricultural employees in the way of affordable housing, childcare, education, healthcare and workforce development is not new, but our approach to providing these services is new.
- Our partnerships and collaboration in the community accelerate change by connecting resources to the community in need.
- We leverage ideas, people, networks and dollars as creatively and efficiently as possible.
- Our success is measured by impact, not by spending.
SCGGF is dedicated to help make affordable, high quality childcare available to agricultural employees and their children. We are advocates of creating a new affordable childcare model that offers flexible timers and financial credits to ag employees who work hours fluctuate depending throughout the year. We are currently working with established childcare resources and providers to determine the best solution to this dilemma.
Our vision for education is to increase, inspire and develop the next generation of farmers and ag employees in Sonoma County. To achieve this goal, we aim to provide ag education support and resources for teachers and their students.
- Teacher Externship Program: In partnership with the Sonoma County Office of Education and the Sonoma County Career Technical Education Foundation, we recently piloted a Teacher Externship program. Teachers from two Sonoma County high schools participated in ag education outside the classroom for a week long deep dive into Sonoma County agriculture. The overall goal of the program was to give the teachers a broad overview of Sonoma County agriculture, immerse them in the history, value and challenges of ag so they have a deeper understanding and appreciation. From this, they will develop an ag based curriculum and one of the schools plans on planting a vineyard. This experience will help them write the curriculum their students will learn from. This program is a wonderful opportunity for us to highlight Sonoma County agriculture and educate teachers in hopes of developing the next generation of Sonoma County farmers.
- Little Library Project: In collaboration with United Way of Wine Country and the Sonoma County Career Technical Education Foundation, we funded Little Free Libraries in Sonoma County. Little Free Libraries provide 24/7 access to books where books are scarce. Especially during the summer months, Little Free Libraries are an excellent resource for local families and children. These libraries were placed in targeted agricultural worker family communities (Ortiz Plaza in Larkfield and La Luz in Sonoma Valley) to support family literacy and education.”
We worked with key partners to better understand and address the health disparities that Sonoma County ag employees and their families face. After hosting a series of roundtable discussions with vineyard employees over the summer, we also learned directly from them on issues that are of most importance to them and their community. This helped us ensure the Foundation’s strategic priorities match the needs most important to our agricultural workforce. From this, we identified that we can help by connecting them with existing programs and resources that can assist with health and dental preventative care and children’s wellness.
Sonoma County provides many opportunities for agricultural workers to advance their education, skill development and careers. By collaborating with partners on educational programs, our goal is to increase the skill set of ag employees and create leaders in the ag community.
- ESL Programs: Provided funding for an English as a Second Language (ESL) program for adults. This program also provided childcare/homework time for the children and a network and education for the parents.
- Vineyard Employee Sustainability Recognition Program: Sustaining a family farm requires love, commitment and hard work. We are proud to recognize the people who help us grow the worlds highest quality grapes. For more information or to nominate an employee, please click here.
SCGGF is committed to being part of the solution for the affordable housing crisis in Sonoma County. Our goal is for ag employees and their families to have adequate and affordable housing available for both temporary and permanent residents.
- Ortiz Family Plaza: We raised over $100,000 in critical funding needed to support the construction of Ortiz Family Plaza in Santa Rosa. The rent for this 30-unit affordable housing complex for farmer worker families is capped at 30% of the total family income lessening the burden to afford essentials such as food, health care and transportation. Construction for Ortiz Family Plaza has been completed and is currently now accepting applications. To apply, please call 707.526.1155 x4743.
- Wildfire Relief Fund: After the wildfires ravaged Sonoma County in October 2017, SCGGF acted quickly to establish a Wildfire Housing Support Fund, which to date has raised more than $1 million dollars to support Sonoma County agricultural workers impacted by the fires. During the past year, SCGGF has supported more than 280 agricultural workers and their families by providing new and/or temporary housing, supplementing lost wages, and providing gift cards to purchase new household items, food and supplies and to help pay utilities. We remain committed to providing this support and addressing the long-term need for affordable housing for ag workers in Sonoma County.
- The October wildfires that began in Sonoma County on October 8th left more than 100,000 residents county-wide displaced from their homes—many of whom permanently lost those homes. At final count, 5,100 homes across Sonoma County were destroyed, and of that total, 5% of all Santa Rosa homes were lost.
- Ag Employees Impacted by Fire Receive Housing Support: More than 150 agricultural employees and their families from Sonoma County who were displaced by the October wildfires have begun receiving much needed help from the SCGGF Housing Support Fund for Agricultural Employees and Their Families. Read the full press release here: Ag Employees Impacted by Fire Receive Housing Support.
- SCGGF Application for Wildfire Housing Support Fund for Ag Employees and Their Families: If you are an ag employee who or whose family has been impacted or displaced by the Sonoma County wildfires and are seeking assistance, please click the buttons below to apply in English or Spanish. Once you have completed the form, email it to [email protected] For questions, please call 707-522-5864.