Tools for Local Farms and Ranches

State of Bay Area Farms & Ranches

Greenbelt Alliance created our Bay Area agriculture report because there is a problem. In our region, there is widespread support for a local, sustainable food system. We’re the center of American gastronomy, with a vibrant agricultural landscape of 600,000 acres of farms and 1.7 million acres of ranch land right next door. Our farms and ranches generate $2.7 billion in annual gross production value alone. That figure jumps to $6.1 billion when we consider the jobs, labor income, and value added from Bay Area agriculture.


Yet development continues to chip away at agricultural lands—jeopardizing availability of local food for our residents and the economic, social, and environmental values that farm and ranch lands provide.

Since 1984, we’ve lost 217,000 acres of agricultural land—that’s seven times the size of San Francisco!

Today, there are 200,000 more acres of farms and ranches at risk of being converted to development. HomeGrown: Tools for Local Farms and Ranches shares what we can do right here in the Bay Area to help.


What’s Inside HomeGrown

Our Bay Area agriculture report explores creative tools and strategies that are working around the Bay Area and beyond to support local agriculture. Our region’s nine counties have unique agricultural challenges and opportunities. We found that among the many tools outlined in this report, there were five things that each county can do to help farms and ranches succeed.

  1. Protect land with policies.
    Adopt agricultural policies that support farmers’ rights, avoid converting agricultural land out of agricultural uses, and mitigate unavoidable losses.
  2. Hire “farmbudsmen.”
    Dedicate county personnel to assist and advocate for farmers and ranchers on local regulatory and planning issues, to help navigate permits and paperwork.
  3. Show the value of farming and ranching.
    Demonstrate and publicize the economic, social, and environmental values of the county’s farms and ranches.
  4. Support direct sales to customers.
    Promote and market local farm direct-sales efforts, such as U-picks, farmers’ markets, and community-supported agriculture programs to both residents and visitors.
  5. Provide funding.
    Identify long-term funding mechanisms to invest in these and other programs.

Download HomeGrown: Tools for Local Farms and Ranches for more details.

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Don’t have time to read the whole report? Here are the juiciest bits from HomeGrown.

State of Farms & Ranches

  • 64% of the Bay Area greenbelt outside of our cities and towns is farm and ranch land.
  • Farms and ranches add $6.1 billion to our local economy.
  • Yet since 1984, we’ve lost 217,000 acres of agricultural land—that’s 7X the size of San Francisco!

6 Barriers to Farming & Ranching Success

  • Land Conversions and Cost
  • Regulatory Challenges
  • Conflicts Between Landowners
  • New Farmer and Rancher Needs
  • Accessing Regional Markets
  • Funding

5 Ways Counties Can Help

  • Protect land with policies
  • Hire “farmbudsmen” to help navigate permits and paperwork
  • Promote the value of local farms and ranches
  • Support direct sales to customers
  • Provide long-term funding

How You Can Help Local Agriculture

  • Use your online voice, your vote, and your buying power to support farms and ranches near you.
  • You can also help us in shaping agricultural policies around the Bay Area by donating to our Farms and Ranches Forever Initiative.
  • Click to take action or donate.


Tools for Local Farms and Ranches