At Risk in Santa Clara County
Mark Medeiros grew up in a rural community between Morgan Hill and Gilroy. He saw firsthand why Santa Clara County was known as the “Valley of Heart’s Delight” for its abundant fresh food.
When Mark saw company after company springing up in Silicon Valley—paving over acres of agricultural land—he found a passion in advocating for protection of the region’s remaining farmland. As a student at San Jose State, he became active in the fight to protect Coyote Valley from development. Thanks to the hard work of Mark and many other residents, San Jose’s newly adopted General Plan puts development of much of Coyote Valley off the table through 2040. Other historic threats from the past—such as development proposals in Sargent Ranch south of Gilroy—have also eased in recent years.
Many threats remain in Santa Clara County; over 63,400 acres of land are still at risk. Gilroy is an attractive area for development that too often is sprawl. Gilroy’s intent to move its future high speed rail station out of downtown and onto prime agricultural land poses a significant risk, as does rural parcelization of agricultural land in San Martin south of Morgan Hill.
Fortunately, more people are working to sustain and enhance the county’s agricultural heritage in both the greenbelt as well as urban farms in cities. Mark is one of them—he co-founded Veggielution, a 2-acre nonprofit community farm that grew 22,000 pounds of food in 2011 and educates hundreds of people about organic gardening each year. The county has begun a Food Systems Alliance to focus on improving access to healthy food and helping local agriculture become more viable.
These exciting developments, combined with a renewed focus on infill development by San Jose, the region’s largest city, mean Santa Clara County residents may finally be able to enjoy the benefits of both Silicon Valley and the Valley of Heart’s Delight.