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Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems Funders
Virginia Clarke, Executive Director
T: 805-687-0551
Based in the United States
Additional Contacts:

Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems Funders


SAFSF is an international network of grantmakers that works to foster communication, shared learning and information exchange about issues connected to sustainable agriculture and food systems. SAFSF seeks to carry out its mission by providing opportunities for collaboration, increasing awareness of the issues as well as funding needs, and expanding beyond the current membership to increase support and funding for organizations that:

(i) promote sustainable and just for production

(ii) link to concerns about sustainability and justice of our food system; and/or

(iii) connect food production with issues of environmental stewardship, diet and heath, and viability of communities.

Our work is guided by the following shared set of values - Collaboration, Diversity, Regionalization and localization, Environmental Integrity and Stewardship Community


SAFSF was formed in 1991 by funders with a shared interest in economically viable, environmentally sound and socially responsible systems of food production, processing, distribution and consumption. SAFSF has grown over the last decade from a handful of loosely affiliated funders to now a formal membership of 84 organizations and a wide network of other grantmaking organizations and advocates.

What Makes Us Different:

We are the primary funder network working on the many issues that intersect with agriculture and food systems. Like so many other networks, we too take a systems approach to our learning and seek to find those points of intersection in our work and to work as collaboratively as possible across issues and sectors.

More info:

A few specific comments related to funder-to-funder connections include:

"Oddly, it is the most time I have spent with several funders from my own community and we will be following up together now that we're back home."

Site visits have become a signature part of SAFSF's programming and are often the most talked about and anticipated aspects of the Forum. This year, we experimented with a long-distance site visit to the Central Valley (a 12-hour day for participants). We were very pleased that not only was the tour highly rated in the post Forum survey, but it was a centerpiece of the discussions throughout the remainder of the Forum. This site visit also led to funding for two of the organizations who helped to host our site visit, and drew together a group of CA-based funders intent on learning more about the Central Valley, work which continues on a year later.

Inspirational Stories:

Based on a recent (Fall, 2012) evaluation, SAFSF is seen as an important relationship broker and third-party convener that levels the playing field and enables foundations to connect with each other as peers and potential partners regardless of size and specific interest. A handful of informants pointed to local and regional convening support they had received from SAFSF as being particularly helpful to developing collaborative strategies and funding. SAFSF's membership has grown from 5 in 2003 to 84 at the start of 2013. Our growth reflects the incredible interest in the issues as well as our ability to connect with funders working at cross-sectoral points with other issues.

Success Stories:

From our Forum 2012 Evaluation:

The Forum is SAFSF's largest annual event and central to our mission of fostering communication, shared learning and information exchange about issues connected to sustainable agriculture and food systems. The following results indicate the Forum has a significant impact:

  • 94.5% of participants agree that the Forum "facilitated meaningful funder-to-funder networking that will help me in my work"
  • 87.5% of participants agree that the Forum "enabled me to initiate new partnerships with other funders"

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