Milestones, Evolution & Development

ROC is a “collaborative catalyst” working with food movement leaders to knit trusting relationships, align strategic goals and priorities, conceive transformative actions and aggregate resources.

ROC is a “collaborative catalyst” working with food movement leaders to knit trusting relationships, align strategic goals and priorities, conceive transformative actions and aggregate the resources needed to effectively plan organize and execute campaigns and projects.  Below is a detailed timeline that reveals the synergies for change that we have spawned:


  • Funders Agriculture Working Group publishes the report: Roots of Change that documents the food and agriculture challenges facing the state.


  • Columbia Foundation, Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation and WK Kellogg Foundation create the ROC Fund to pool resources for strategic investments. The ROC Council is formed and meets for 18 months to plot a change strategy.


  • September: The ROC Fund, advised by the ROC Council, makes grants to Ag Innovations Network, Ecotrust and NRDC to create a vision for the food system and begin building a network of leaders to make the vision a reality.


  • Winter to Spring: The California Roundtable on Ag and the Environment (CRAE) and three new Ag Futures Alliances (Merced, San Benito and Yolo) are launched.
  • December: The Vivid Picture Project releases The New Mainstream: A Sustainable Food Agenda for California. Three big ideas form ROC’s core strands of DNA:
  1. The Best & the Brightest: A respected, competent, mission driven leadership and workforce
  2. Get Fresh: Healthy community-based food systems
  3. A New Urban-Rural Partnership: Linking communities, economies and the environment.


  • September: Farmworker Health & Safety white paper clarifies that common ground between farmers and workers can be found.


  • January: ROC begins it first 5-year plan with a campaign to recruit the first class of ROC Fellows and begins formation of a leadership network.
  • February: ROC contracts with Ag Innovations Network to act as the backbone to the CRAE and continue launching Ag Futures and Food System Alliances across the state.
  • May: First retreat of the first class of ROC Fellows.


  • January: ROC becomes a partner in development and implementation of Slow Food Nation. ROC asks Assembly Member Lois Wolk (D-Davis) to sponsor a bill that would compel the state to develop a strategic plan for moving agriculture toward sustainability. In talks with CDFA Secretary AG Kawamura and State Board of Food and Agriculture members Karen Ross and Craig McNamara, Secretary Kawamura agrees to launch an effort without legislation. The California Ag Vision Project is born. ROC becomes a driving force for the following 20 months by organizing dozens of activists to testify at seven hearings up and down the state and forming a stakeholder delegation of 22 members that participates in three strategic planning retreats that involved 90 leaders from agriculture. The California Ag Vision becomes the guiding document for CDFA from 2010 to the present.
  • September: ROC hosts Slow Food Nations’ Changemakers Day involving 450 food movement leaders from across the nation and releases the Declaration for Healthy Food and Agriculture, which garnered 35,000 signatures and commenced ROC’s online presence. Mass mainstream media coverage of the food movement takes off after the event earns 8 million media impressions in five days.
  • October: ROC co-sponsors first pilot convening of Slow Money in Point Reyes and helps introduce the concept to west coast investors.
  • November: As a direct outcome of Slow Food Nation, Mayor Gavin Newsom agrees to sanction the first Urban-Rural Roundtable and develop a sustainable food policy for San Francisco, which a small team under the guidance of Paula Jones from the San Francisco County Department of Public Health had been trying to drive onto his agenda for some time.


  • June: Mayor Newsom unveils his policy at a City Slicker Farms site in Oakland during ROC’s Sustainable Foodshed Summit held in Oakland and involving USDA officials and 150 leaders from the burgeoning ROC network. Paula Daniels, a political appointee of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in Los Angeles, attends the summit and requests that ROC launch a second Urban-Rural Roundtable to assist Paula’s work with the Los Angeles Food Policy Task Force.
  • October: ROC receives first of four large grants from the CDFA Specialty Crop Block Grant program to launch the California Market Match Consortium.


  • January: With 35 stakeholders, ROC begins developing a “systems dynamic” map to understand how the food system actually works and to identify the most strategic intervention points in that system.
  • February: ROC Council members Larry Yee and Jim Cochran engage their colleagues in development of the concept of the Food Commons.
  • July: ROC sponsors and hosts a Food Commons brainstorming event at the Presidio in San Francisco and funds development of the founding concept paper, which is distributed throughout the nation.
  • October: ROC holds a second network summit, this one in Los Angeles, with 250 representatives from across the food movement in California. The food systems dynamic map and resulting change strategy are unveiled. The Good Food for All Agenda is released and the Los Angeles Food Policy Council is launched. The gala tasting event held on the evening of October 10th is seen by many as the moment that galvanized the Los Angeles food movement.


  • January – March: ROC staff realizes in aftermath of the fall summit that the movement lacks the right vehicle for developing a widely endorsed policy agenda. With Movement Strategies Center, ROC undertakes an internal review and survey of stakeholders. ROC begins shift to become backbone of a larger entity and to consider the need for a state food policy council after the California’s Health in All Policies Task Force recommends that one is needed.
  • June: ROC organizes a meeting at CDFA hosted by Governor Brown’s cabinet secretaries Karen Ross and Diana Dooley with 50 stakeholders, and proposes formation of the California Food Policy Council. Those assembled endorse the idea.
  • July: People’s Institute for Survival & Beyond leads retreat to expand ROC’s (Council, staff and fellows) capacity to work with people of color.
  • October: At the Community Food Security Coalition conference in Oakland, ROC invites stakeholders to engage in the formation process for the California Food Policy Council, and offers to become the backbone organization. Those attending accept the proposal.


  • January: Series of five California Food Policy Council formation meetings begin.
  • February: ROC begins cluster evaluation project with Fair Food Network, Market Umbrella and Wholesome Wave to measure impacts of Market Match program, which has grown to include eleven partner NGOs, running 130 markets in 17 counties, and serving 37,000 low income communities. ROC also begins Fierce Allies project with People’s Grocery to deepen ability to work with differences in class, race and privilege.
  • April-November: ROC collaborates with photographer and author Lisa Hamilton to create Real Rural, a photo exhibition showing the diversity of California’s rural communities to BART riders in the Bay Area.
  • July: ROC implements its third Urban-Rural Roundtable leading to formation of the San Diego Food System Alliance with funding from The California Endowment.
  • August: ROC agrees to become the backbone for incubation of Slow Food California formation initiative.
  • October: In her book, Everyday Heroes: 50 Americans Changing the World One Nonprofit at a Time, author Katrina Fried features ROC president Michael Dimock.
  • November: ROC sends a policy concept memo to Debbie Stabenow, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Karen Ross, CDFA Secretary, describing the concept and rationale for a national nutrition incentive program.
  • December: Founding California Food Policy Council documents are approved in San Diego and sent across the state for ratification by local councils and alliances.


  • March: ROC proposes to the California Food Policy Council that it develop the nation’s first report dedicated to state food and farming legislation. Members accept the proposal and forms its first policy work group.
  • May: Twelve local councils become ratified members of the California Food Policy Council.
  • July: ROC becomes a project of the Public Health Institute to enhance alignment with a much larger network of public health stakeholders sharing similar goals.
  • October: ROC passes off leadership of the California Market Match Consortium to Ecology Center in order to focus fully on supporting the California Food Policy Council.
  • December: California Food Policy Council has 18 ratified members.


  • January: The California Food Policy Council and ROC release the 2013 Report on California Legislation Related to Food and Farming that garners statewide and national attention. A California Food Policy Council “coalition of the willing” works with ROC to develop a policy concept paper that leads to creation of AB2385, the Market Match Nutrition Incentive Bill.
  • February: ROC becomes the bill’s sponsor authored by San Francisco Assemblymember Phil Ting. The Federal Farm Bill is passed with inclusion of the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive program, providing $100 million in match funds for projects like the California Market Match Consortium.
  • June: ROC proposes to Food Day and Center for a Livable Future that a national call be held to begin developing bonds of trust and collaboration among the more than 200 food policy councils in the US. The proposal is accepted.
  • November: The California Food Policy Council has 26 ratified members and publishes its 2014 Report on Legislation Related to Food and Farming.