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Local Leaders to Discuss Food, Agriculture Sustainability at Panel Discussion

Gina Auriemma of Salty Girl Seafood will be among the panelists at the “Growing Our Own: The Business of Food and Agriculture Sustainability, From Start-Up to Farm” discussion. Click to view larger
Gina Auriemma of Salty Girl Seafood will be among the panelists at the “Growing Our Own: The Business of Food and Agriculture Sustainability, From Start-Up to Farm” discussion. (Salty Girl Seafood photo)

Innovative entrepreneurs and local community leaders will discuss the importance of incorporating sustainable practices into their food businesses while encouraging other organizations to do the same at an expert panel discussion entitled “Growing Our Own: The Business of Food and Agriculture Sustainability, From Start-Up to Farm.” The event is open to the public and will take place from 5-8 p.m. Wednesday, June 15, at the Cabrillo Pavilion Arts Center.

Salty Girl Seafood, a Santa Barbara-based company that serves as a national model for promoting traceable, sustainable seafood, will be among the panel participants.

Founded by graduate students from UC Santa Barbara’s Bren School for Environmental Science and Management, Salty Girl Seafood strives to make purchasing and preparing sustainable, traceable seafood easy and accessible for everyone.  

Gina Auriemma, Salty Girl Seafood’s chief information officer, says that while the environmental benefit of her company’s work is tremendous, there are also components on the operations side that can support their mission.  

“There are many ways companies can reduce waste and costs including recycling, getting rid of Styrofoam and using smaller packaging to be more efficient,” she says.  

During the panel Auriemma will offer suggestions for implementing sustainable practices as well as discuss the founding and mission of her company.  

“Education is a significant component of our company — sharing stories of how we fish, where we get the fish and how this impacts the environment,” she says. “We want to spread this word to heal the world’s oceans.”

Sharyn Main, senior director of community investments at the Santa Barbara Foundation will also participate in the panel, and she wants to spread the word on her agency’s LEAF (Landscapes, Ecosystems, Agriculture and Food) initiative.  

The county-wide LEAF effort seeks to advance regional strategies to increase land conservation, improve ecosystem health, ensure agricultural viability and improve the local food system.  

“When we see something as complex and all encompassing as the challenges of our local food system, we see this as a charge for the Foundation,” explains Main. “The Santa Barbara Foundation is looking for opportunities to improve how food is grown, processed, distributed, consumed and disposed of, to create more equity in the system, more economic opportunities and improved environmental outcomes.”  

Main says that the entire community stands to benefit from this endeavor and should therefore be considered from a community perspective.

Other panelists include Jasper Eiler, president of Harvest Santa Barbara, which creates a platform for farmers to provide locally grown produce to institutions and corporate customers, and Harold Edwards, CEO of Limoneira, one of the world’s largest citrus/avocado producers with a strategic focus on sustainable business practices, including solar and waste water treatment.  

The panel will be moderated by Jill Feldman, president of Strategic Development Associates, a consulting organization that works with tech firms, specializing in strategic planning, market research, competitive analysis and consumer insights.

Advanced registration for the panel discussion is encouraged, and tickets can be purchased online at mitcentralcoast.org. Walk-ins are also welcome.  

Admittance costs $15 with student ID, $30 advance or $40 at the door. The price includes refreshments.

For more information, contact Jill Feldman at [email protected].

— Ann Pieramici represents Enterprise Forum Central Coast.

 
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