Santa Clara County has a rich agricultural heritage and was once known as the “Valley of Heart’s Delight,” as testament to its highly productive farmland. Still today, local growers and ranches produce fruits, vegetables, and livestock products, as well as nursery crops, wine grapes, seed crops, forage crops, and timber. The total value of agriculture in Santa Clara County is close to half a billion dollars and provides almost 5,000 farming-related jobs (Scheer 2014).
Santa Clara County is one of the fastest-growing counties in the region and this places pressure on the region’s agricultural lands. Over the last 20 years, farmland in the county has declined by 45% and fertile lands remain at risk for urban development (California Farmland Conservancy website 2014). Of the remaining 27,000 acres of farmland, roughly half is considered at risk of development over the next 30 years (Greenbelt Alliance 2012).
The Open Space Authority has taken a lead role in identifying and preserving the region’s most important farmland and rangeland. In collaboration with farmers and ranchers, agricultural organizations, natural resource agencies, and local, regional, and state initiatives, the Authority is identifying ways to support the environmental and economic success of the Valley’s agriculture. Efforts are focused to help protect the most important remaining farmlands and rangelands, where production currently occurs and where it can be most sustainable in the long-term. Partners such as Sustainable Agriculture Education (SAGE) have released the Food Works report that focuses on building up local food systems to improve our region's economy, community health, livability, and the environment.
The Authority is currently participating in the implementation of the Santa Clara Valley Agricultural Plan, which aims to protect agricultural lands in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Authority conserves farms, ranches, and other working landscapes to sustain the economic and environmental viability of local agriculture.
Learn more about agriculture in the Santa Clara Valley Greenprint.