Agriculture

Preserving Our Heritage in the Valley of Heart’s Delight 

Santa Clara County has a rich agricultural heritage and was once known as the “Valley of Heart’s Delight,” as testament to the 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).

The Current Agriculture Landscape

Santa Clara County is the fastest-growing county 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 Value of Agriculture

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 viability 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 effectively sustained over 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 healthy, livability, and the environment.

The Authority currently participates in the Santa Clara Valley Agricultural Plan that aims to protect agricultural lands in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Our Approach

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.

Agriculture

If you are interested in easements or working with the Open Space Authority to donate or sell property, please Contact Us.

Strategies include:

  1. Protect farms and ranches through fee purchase, conservation easements, and other incentives.
  2. Manage Open Space Authority lands for natural resource protection and viable agricultural operations, and to model effective public-private partnerships.
  3. Support regional efforts to promote local sustainable food and economically sustainable working lands, and develop public education and outreach campaigns to promote awareness about the economic and environmental value of working lands.
  4. Engage in local, regional, and state land use planning and policy projects to promote farm and rangeland protection and the economic viability of regional agriculture.