Saving the Greenbelt

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 Greenbelt – a land use term that designates the area of rural, wild, or agricultural lands that surround 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 more 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 unique challenges of increased demand for land use 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.

Only by maintaining a market for the fruits of organic, soil-based agriculture and diverse farmstead products culled from humane producers can the San Francisco Bay Area preserve the quality of its Foodshed. And only by cultivating an intimate connection with wildness can the Bay Area community preserve the vitality of its Greenbelt.