Joel Devalcourt

Joel Devalcourt

Brentwood General Plan puts pressure on farms

The Bay Area loves chowing down on local food. Yet pressure to pave over our farms and ranches—a huge part of the greenbelt—still exists, especially in Brentwood, east Contra Costa County’s agricultural gem.

Greenbelt Alliance recently responded to the City of Brentwood’s proposed General Plan update—the city’s blueprint for how to grow and develop—which included sprawl development on east Contra Costa County’s agricultural lands. We brought together many farmer and advocate partners and voiced our concerns to the City in defense of the agricultural heritage of some of the Bay Area’s exceptional farms.

As a result, the worst proposals for sprawl were quickly removed from the General Plan.

However, threats to the network of farms that drive Brentwood’s food economy still remain. Areas outside of the city’s urban growth boundary—including prime farmland and ranchland—are still on the table for residential and commercial development. These “Special Planning Areas” can cause speculation of land that will drive farmers out of their livelihood and inevitably lead to sprawl development.

Farmers like Tom Bloomfield—owner of Bloomfield Cherries and grower of wine grapes, alfalfa, and of course cherries—are vital to the future of agriculture in the Bay Area.

“Brentwood’s [agricultural land] is a resource to the county and the Bay Area that is unique,” says Tom. “If the proper tools aren’t in place to protect it, it will fail.”

Greenbelt Alliance will continue to work in Brentwood and throughout the Bay Area to support our agricultural heritage and ensure that the Bay Area has local, fresh food for generations to come. One exciting step in this direction is Greenbelt Alliance’s participation in the new Contra Costa Food System Alliance, which is a policy coalition for protecting farmland, encouraging agricultural enterprise, and ensuring access to healthy foods for all.

The Brentwood draft General Plan [PDF] is now available online. To get involved, please contact Joel Devalcourt at jdevalcourt@greenbelt.org.

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