Food Systems Planning

Ms. Studwell is an agricultural economist with 30 years of experience in the analysis, planning and implementation of rural and community economic development projects. Ms. Studwell is a recognized expert in the analysis of agricultural and food industry project feasibility. Ms. Studwell successfully accomplishes her food system planning projects by working collaboratively with food industry leaders, including farmers, ranchers, food processors and distributors, to craft realistic strategies for enhancing the competitiveness of their regions’ industries.

2013—Agricultural Economic Development Investment Strategy for the Bay Area
As part of a Bay Area Agricultural Economic Development and Investment Strategy, prepared five in-depth case studies of local Bay Area food enterprises, documenting trends in revenues, expenditures, net profits, return on investment and other measures of growth and profitability.

2011—Coyote Valley Agriculture Feasibility Study
In 2011, working with SAGE and GreenInfo Network, Ms. Studwell completed the Conserving Coyote Valley Agriculture Feasibility Study Phase I Report to assess the potential for creating a permanent, economically viable and ecologically valuable, agricultural resource area. Based on the findings from the existing conditions research, opportunities and constraints analysis, and input from key informants and technical advisors, the project funder and Partner Group concluded that there was sufficient baseline feasibility to warrant moving ahead to Phase Two.

2010—Fort Bragg Food System Assessment and Strategic Plan
The City of Fort Bragg is located on the northern coast of Mendocino County, a three-hour drive north of San Francisco. The City has a niche in specialty food processing which is complemented by active civic efforts to increase local food products and related activities. Ms. Studwell, working with Applied Development Economics prepared a Food Products Industry Marketing and Technical Assistance Strategy to encourage job growth and business development in the local food industry sector. The Assessment and Strategic Plan analyzes the structure, size and components of Fort Bragg’s existing food production and marketing system and identifies opportunities to expand it, as well as barriers to its further growth. It concludes with a set of recommendations for building upon existing assets to more fully develop the local food production and distribution system.

2007—Clarksburg AVA Wine Processing Feasibility Study
Ms. Studwell assessed the feasibility as well as the economic value-added and employment benefits of increasing wine production and agri-tourism within the Clarksburg District. The feasibility study included an analysis of 4 distinct wine processing scenarios and a determination of infrastructure needs for the most probably scenario, a combination of large and boutique wineries. The final report included recommended programs and strategies to realize the district’s economic potential. Recently, the districts largest vintner doubled the size of their facility, increasing employment and sales from the region.

2006-07—Northwest Food Processors Association Industry Cluster Assessment and Roadmap
Ms. Studwell led a team of consultants on an unprecedented multi-state public-private partnership in the Pacific Northwest to develop a strategic plan to sustain and improve the competitiveness of the food processing industry. The Northwest Food Processors Association, together with the Economic Development Administration (EDA) and the states of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, jointly funded this three-state analysis of the $20 billion food processing industry. Ms. Studwell completed the cluster analysis, identifying critical challenges to global competitiveness and worked with cluster leaders to develop a set of goals and strategies to be implemented by the industry in partnership with government, academia, workforce development organizations, and utilities.

2003-04—Fresno Collaborative Regional Initiative Cluster Projects
The Fresno Collaborative Regional Initiative, a joint venture of the Fresno Business Council and the Central California Futures Institute based at Fresno State University retained Ms. Studwell to prepare two cluster studies as part of an on-going process of creating greater capacity for innovation and entrepreneurship in the region. The Food Technology Cluster Study analyzed structural changes in the industry, focusing on the role that research and development plays in productivity and wage increases looking closely at sectors that have responded successfully to rapid changes in the global market. Ms. Studwell was subsequently retained to facilitate the formation of a new food technology cluster organization for the San Joaquin Valley.

2010—Petaluma Economic Development Strategy & Implementation Plan
Ms. Studwell has completed several economic development strategies for suburban, rural and agriculturally-based communities located at the metropolitan edge. For instance, Ms. Studwell led a team of consultants to update the City of Petaluma’s economic development strategy which included recommendations on supporting industry cluster groups, such as its large food manufacturing cluster, comprised of Clover-Stornetta, Cowgirl Creamery, Petaluma Chicken, Lagunitas Brewing, Barbara’s, Straus Dairy and several others. Ms. Studwell worked with a team of food processors and their suppliers to more accurately describe that cluster’s significance to the local and regional economy and to craft recommendations for sustaining and improving that sector. As a means of demonstrating that industry’s importance to the community and to the region, Ms. Studwell conducted an analysis of the Petaluma manufacturing sector’s direct and indirect economic impacts on the rest of the economy.

2009—Agriculture Element, Sutter County General Plan Update
As part of Sutter County’s most recent General Plan Update, Ms. Studwell, under contract with PBS&J, prepared a new Agriculture Element and Economic Development Element. This involved preparing an Issues Paper that documented trends in food processing and agriculture within the county and identified Sutter County’s strategic economic development issues relative to agriculture and food processing. Ms. Studwell worked with a 10-member Food and Agriculture Focus Group over a six-month time frame to draft policies and implementation measures that would help to stimulate agriculture and food processing economic development within the County.

2007—Economic Impacts of Developing Farmland in South Colusa County
As a follow on to completing the South Colusa County Economic Development Strategy, Ms. Studwell prepared an analysis of the direct and indirect economic impacts of developing farmland in south Colusa County. The analysis showed that commercial and industrial development, combined with residential development would have a positive economic impact for both the private and public sectors.

2005—Artisan Agriculture Feasibility Analysis
The City of Greenfield is located in California’s Salinas Valley (America’s Salad Bowl). While with ADE, Ms. Studwell prepared an analysis of the feasibility of “artisan agriculture” at the northwest end of the city. Artisan Agriculture, as defined by Greenfield, includes all uses normally allowed in agricultural zones, including small scale farming of flowers, nurseries, orchards, vineyards, and herb gardens. It also includes uses that complement agriculture, such as artist studios, tasting rooms, Bed & Breakfasts, farm stays, cafes and ag-related recreational uses. The feasibility analysis determined that such uses would be economically feasible within the study area, but that the City would have to shepherd the conversion from traditional large-scale agriculture to new models of small-scale agriculture and related tourism. This shepherding would take the form of offering technical assistance workshops and forums on starting and operating such enterprises, and enhancing the local library’s business resource center to include resources on agri-tourism and small scale farming.

2000—Santa Cruz Food and Agriculture Cluster Project
As part of a collaborative effort on the part of the County of Santa Cruz, local businesses and Cabrillo College, Ms. Studwell completed the Food and Agriculture Cluster Study resulting in the commitment of cluster members to implement actions that would address agriculture’s most critical issues: farm-worker housing and land use policies. These included working with the County of Santa Cruz and Action Pajaro Valley to create policies that both support the continued competitiveness and vitality of the agriculture sector and sustain open space; and, work with the County and cities of Santa Cruz and Watsonville to build more farm-worker housing.

2003—Monterey County Food and Agriculture Cluster
For the Monterey County Housing and Redevelopment Division, Ms. Studwell completed an analysis of the Food and Agriculture Clusters for two sub-regions: Pajaro Valley and Castroville. Findings of the cluster studies were used as background information for the land use element of the County’s updated General Plan.

2001—San Joaquin Valley Water Technology Cluster Engagement
For the Great Valley Center and the Fresno Business Council, Ms. Studwell completed the Water Flow Technology Cluster study and helped the cluster leaders develop an action plan. The earlier report, The Economic Future of the San Joaquin Valley, identified precision irrigation technology as an economic opportunity area for the Valley and recommended that the cluster begin a process of developing an action plan focusing on enhancing research and development, workforce development and marketing alliances. With the support of the Great Valley Center, the Fresno Business Council, and CSU Fresno, cluster members met and over the course of four months, completed a strategic action plan for increasing the cluster’s competitiveness in the global market.