Many may not be aware that Santa Clara County still has 24,000 acres of farmland that generates 8,100 jobs and $830 million in economic output. However, in the past 30 years alone, the County lost 21,171 acres of farmland and rangeland to development and an additional 28,391 acres are currently at risk of being developed. If we lose more of our farmland, it would not only diminish our local food source, but also result in a loss of the iconic rural character of Santa Clara Valley, the loss of important jobs and farms central to our agricultural economy, and would generate significant greenhouse gas emissions.
The Open Space Authority uses cattle grazing as a management tool to enhance the native biodiversity of California’s rare grasslands and oak savannas that support many native plants and animals, including endangered species. Grasslands have become rare due to development, and the remaining protected grasslands are under threat from invasive plant species. Invasive plants outcompete native plants for resources and suppressing natural wildfires have caused many shrubs and trees to establish themselves in grasslands. In the absence of fire or grazing, litter accumulates on the soil and can become fuel for extreme fires.
SAN MARTIN — As fourth-generation men of the earth, the Bonino brothers know their picked profession isn’t for everyone.
Their century-old LJB Farms has been around since long before the term “Silicon Valley” was coined, but it’s now an outlier in Santa Clara County, a throwback to days when it was known as the Valley of Heart’s Delight.
The Open Space Authority cordially invites the community to the Coyote Valley Family Harvest Feast, a celebration of locally-grown food, local farms, and Silicon Valley’s agricultural roots. This free and family-friendly festival will take place on Saturday, September 10, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., at the Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve, 550 Palm Avenue in Morgan Hill. Attendees are encouraged to register in advance at www.CoyoteValley2016.eventbrite.com
Preserving farmland has many benefits, including decreasing the carbon emissions associated with urban development. A recent $100,000 grant was awarded to the County of Santa Clara, in partnership with the Open Space Authority, that will identify and protect at-risk agricultural lands in order to help reduce greenhouse gas emission. “If agriculture is to survive in South County,” says Andrea Mackenzie, Open Space Authority General Manager, “we need an innovative action plan. The time is now to align plans, programs, policies and investment affecting undeveloped agricultural lands and demonstrate that conserving farmland from development is a critically important climate change strategy.”
The Authority recently purchased 183 acres of farmland in South Santa Clara County where the Pajaro River and Llagas Creek intersect. The land provides tomatoes, peppers, and leaf lettuces and the farm is part of a large complex of protected, productive farms that also provide flood prevention benefits to downstream communities. The property, which is south of the City of Gilroy, has been designated the Pajaro River Agricultural Preserve. The Authority's intent is to keep it in productive agriculture, while also managing it for the other benefits that our working landscapes provide.
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