Market Expansion and Diversification
As Mono County’s tourism base supported by recreational activities is successful and established, merging tourism with working lands creates the functional sub-context of Agritourism. Agritourism is a broad term that encompasses many enterprises. However, the main incentive is to improve the economic quality of life for an operator. Agritourism is the utilization of a value added product to earn on comparative advantages, with its success being brought by diversity and direct sales through marketing in lieu of financial or production modes. Further, the tenant is based in a land based connection and embracing the rural qualities provided; thereby this could cover more traditional farm stands with cottage foodstuffs, Bed and Breakfast home-stays, weddings, farm to table dinners, wineries, breweries, and distilleries.
Cannabis activities have the potential to provide a new market opportunity for agricultural operators through a high-value crop that can potentially be grown on a smaller land base. In addition, a “micro-business” model could support “value added” opportunities in addition to cultivation and nurseries, such as retail, manufacturing (extractions, infusions, making of edibles, packaging and labeling, etc.), and distribution as accessory uses to a main agricultural use.
Site-specific regulations would address issues such as, but not limited to, setbacks, visual screening, odor control, security, and operational specifics, such as hours, and waste disposal; all California regulations would also be followed.
Farmer's Markets, Value Added Products, and CSA:
Currently, there are no Farmer’s Markets in the unincorporated Mono County. The Town of Mammoth Lakes, the only incorporated city in Mono County, does have a seasonal Farmer’s Market. Entry into the Farmer’s Market is relatively simple. An operator must have a current Town of Mammoth Lakes business license and have membership dues for their space through the purveyor at Skip’s Farmer’s Market. California Public Health Code has provided an outlet for value added products through Cottage Food laws, whereby an applicant with a permit and an inspected kitchen may offer certain foodstuffs for value added product and sale directly to a market. There are currently four permits issued, two Class A and two Class B. There is currently one CSA operating in Mono County, Sierra Bounty. This CSA acts as a food HUB, where local products are sourced and distributed through Stellar Brew, a local coffee shop and owner of Sierra Bounty.
General Plan OS/C Policy 5.C.2. offers that there is support of optimal agricultural practices, with Action 5.C.2.b encouraging community gardens to support the availability of healthy, locally grown produce. There are Community Gardens in Benton, Crowley, Lee Vining, Bridgeport, and Walker. These range in size and operational capacity. One reason for this area being so special is the open space offered by rural ways of life. This blessing of isolation is also a problem when considering the access to resources. Food prices are the some of the highest in the Eastern Sierra. Thereby, a garden could provide an understanding of this fragility contributing to better health of both people- nutrient dense food, release of tension, and interpersonal communication for instance, and the ecosystem- carbon sequestration, water filtration, or air quality enhancement.