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.
Tom Bloomfield—owner of Bloomfield Cherries and grower of wine grapes, alfalfa, and of course cherries—knows intimately the threat that sprawl poses to the future of agriculture in the Bay Area. When real estate speculators buy up farms and turn one after another into sprawling subdivisions, even those farmers who want to stay in agriculture get discouraged. “Farmers don’t want to invest and sign mortgage payments if they don’t see a future for agriculture,” says Tom.
Recent proposals for Brentwood’s update to its General Plan—the city’s blueprint for how to grow and develop—run counter to the goal of alleviating pressure to sprawl onto agricultural lands. So, Greenbelt Alliance, area residents who support Brentwood’s agricultural heritage, and other organizations are gearing up to defend the farmland at Brentwood’s urban edge.
“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.”