Farms and ranches make up 64% of our region’s 3.6 million acre greenbelt—making our region a local food hotbed. Our world-class wines, farmers markets, u-pick farms, and local cuisine help to make the Bay Area the amazing place it is.
The motivations for eating locally are diverse—from taste, to health, to the environment. But there is one common fact about everyone in the Bay Area that craves local food—we rely on the farms and ranches of our region to give us what we love.
Today our farms and ranches are at risk. Only a small percentage—27% of ranch lands and 13% of farms—are permanently off limits to development.
Making matters worse, many farmers and ranchers operate at the edge of economic viability. These economic struggles can make the idea of converting a farm or a ranch into sprawl development more enticing to the owner of agricultural land.
At Greenbelt Alliance we are using our expertise in how the Bay Area grows to protect local agriculture. Farmers and ranchers face a surprising number of land-related barriers including land conversions, land cost, and regulatory challenges. Read more about the challenges Bay Area farmers and ranchers face here.
To address these challenges, we created HomeGrown: Tools for Local Farms and Ranches. This report explores creative tools and strategies that are working around the Bay Area and beyond to support local agriculture. We’re ensuring that these tools and strategies are put into place throughout the Bay Area, starting with Contra Costa County. You can read more about our work in Contra Costa County agriculture here and donate to support our farms and ranches work here.
By shaping land-use policies and supporting local agriculture’s economic viability, we can protect our remaining farms and ranches. Watch the story of “Farmer Al” Courchesne to see how Greenbelt Alliance is helping local agriculture.
Al’s Story, Frog Hollow Farm
By shaping the rules that govern how our region grows Greenbelt Alliance defends the Bay Area’s agricultural landscape. We advocate for policies and funding programs that protect agricultural land and that help farms and ranches be economically viable.
We bring expertise on preserving farms and ranches to shape agriculture-friendly land use policies. We work with decision-makers across the Bay Area to put tools in place that help agriculture thrive.
We mobilize Bay Area residents to help us take action where they live, ensuring that decision-makers know that their constituents want them to make decisions that preserve the region’s agricultural identity.
We also support the right kinds of development within our cities and towns to meet the Bay Area’s need for housing, make neighborhoods great places to live, work, and play, and reduce pressure to develop over Bay Area farms and ranches.
We’ll achieve our goals by:
- Ensuring city and county governments, and regional agencies, put in place land-use plans and policies that protect agricultural land and help farmers and ranchers thrive economically;
- Supporting investment in the Bay Area’s food system and efforts to fund the protection of farms and ranches with tools such as agricultural conservation easements;
- Stopping sprawl development proposals that threaten to consume Bay Area agricultural lands.
Did you know: Solano County is one of the most agriculturally productive counties in the Bay Area. In 2008, the county renewed the “Orderly Growth Initiative” which greatly limits the ability of the County government to permit sprawl development on agricultural lands. Greenbelt Alliance was instrumental in ensuring the reauthorization of the Orderly Growth Initiative.
photo: Zoe Meyers ©