Expanding Our Greenbelts

In the past two decades more than two-thirds of new development in the San Francisco Bay Area took place atop agriculturally productive land or within its Greenbeltawhich is a land use term for the area of rural, wild, or agricultural land that surrounds an urban center. 

While the Bay Area has one of the most rich, productive, and diverse foodsheds in the world, it also has some of the world’s most expensive real estate, currently driving tremendous demand for both affordable housing and commercial development.

Recently, American Farmland Trust and SAGE collaborated to produce a revealing analysis of the San Francisco Bay Area food economy focusing on long-term strategies for resilience.

 The study considered ways to protect the area’s local food system, natural diversity, and agricultural character, noting the challenges from land use demands in an elevated real estate market. One fact highlighted by the report was particularly worrisome. A growing number of financially-strapped small farmers now see more financial benefit in selling their land, than in farming it.

As an evermore tech-focused and eco-insulated community drives the environmental policy decisions of the San Francisco Bay Area, it longstanding stewardship values become increasingly tested and threatened. The foods a community demands are inextricably connected to the natural beauty and bounty of its environment. Only with strong support for the local fruits and farmstead products of a diverse group of small, organic, soil-based food purveyors will the vitality of both its food and farmlands survive.