Santa Clara Valley
Protecting working lands by building identity of place.
Santa Clara Valley was once known as the Valley of Heart’s Delight. Until the 1960s, this valley that runs through the center of Santa Clara County, south of San Francisco, was the largest fruit production and packing region in the world. Since the first silicon chips were produced here in 1961, fruit orchards have been replaced by office parks, housing and freeways, driven by the fast-growing technology economy of what is now known as Silicon Valley. Nearly half of the farm and ranchlands in Santa Clara Valley have been lost in just the last 20 years. Yet there are more than 30,000 acres of working lands — farms, ranches and open space — that remain today, providing vital public benefits and enhancing quality of life in the region.
In 2017, the County of Santa Clara and the Open Space Authority of Santa Clara Valley partnered to develop a plan to protect the last of the irreplaceable working lands in the Valley as a strategy to mitigate the effects of climate change and grow a vibrant food economy. Amie MacPhee of Cultivate, the lead consultant on the Santa Clara Valley Agricultural Plan which was adopted by the County in January 2018, introduced me to the team because she understood that branding and storytelling should be an integral part of the Plan.
Working with Michael Meehan of Acre Policy, a farmer himself, we developed a strategy for a Branding, Education & Awareness campaign in support of the Plan and the farmers and ranchers working the lands in Santa Clara Valley.
A central part of the strategy is to restore the region's name — Santa Clara Valley —through a coordinated branding and communications program that will raise awareness about the ecological, cultural and economic value of working lands in the Valley. The first phase of implementation of the campaign also includes outreach to tech companies Silicon Valley who serve thousands of meals every day to their employees, making them a likely partner to invest in local food production. By creating connections between the vibrant tech economy and the Valley's agricultural heritage, we can create a healthier, more sustainable and prosperous region for all.