The Peninsula Open Space Trust in Palo Alto, California, has announced a $25 million initiative to triple the amount of preserved farmland acreage and number of preserved farms on the San Mateo coast over the next decade.
The Farmland Futures Initiative will work to conserve fifteen hundred acres, increasing the number of protected farms from eleven to thirty-three and the amount of protected productive farmland from 750 to 2,250 acres. Since the 1980s, the nine counties in the region have lost nearly two hundred thousand acres of agricultural land to development, including 35 percent of the farmland in San Mateo County. POST, which hopes to preserve farmland in the region through a combination of land acquisition and agricultural conservation easements, has raised more than $7.5 million for the effort to date, including lead support from the Leslie Family, Gordon and Betty Moore, and Sand Hill foundations; Diane Greene and Mendel Rosenblum; Sandra and John Thompson; and Karie and David Thomson.
In addition to conserving farmland, the program will work to keep Bay Area farmers, many of whom are challenged by the high cost of farmland, which is more than eight times the national average, in business.
"Protecting local working land matters to our environment, our farmers, and our community," said POST president Walter Moore. "Farms are vital to the health of our local ecosystems, waterways, and the region’s overall food system, growing the farm-fresh foods that we as a society value and cherish. Our Farmland Futures Initiative aims to protect San Mateo County’s valuable remaining farmland as farms before they are lost for good."