Farmland Trust (CFT), a Sacramento County based non-profit, has recently reached permanent protection of over 16,000 acres of California farmland – and CFT is celebrating! Why is this noteworthy?
“16,000 acres represents a huge milestone in CFT’s vision of a California where farmland is seen on par with land uses such as houses and shopping malls, or other environmental initiatives,” says Charlotte Mitchell, CFT’s Executive Director. “Public opinion is shifting and we see it in the form of more donors and more agency funding. From small, humble beginnings, and a still small staff, our community of supporters has helped 50 farming families. We’ve also built relationships with agency funders who now come to us seeking more farmland projects.”
This achievement exemplifies the findings in a recent scientific survey conducted by Valley Vision and California State University, Sacramento. The study found 89% of respondents felt preserving farmland is more important than creating retail and office space. Further, respondents ranked protecting farmland from conversion more important than protecting open space and wild space from the same threat.
In a state where development is booming, these 16,000 acres mark a significant acknowledgement that landscapes not often accessible to the public, although very beneficial to them, are a substantial part of a thriving lifestyle.
Farmland on the valley floor competes with land uses directly connected to the publics’ needs – housing, transportation, and amenities. Landscapes with wildlife habitat or environmental designations get much of the attention while the loss of farmland often takes a back seat when public funding is concerned.
“While there are many funding sources that can give huge grants for wildlife, wetlands, urban open space, and coastal lands; there is very,very little available for preserving working farms,” says Maxwell Norton, retired county extension agent and a founding CFT board member. “We have been resourceful in digging up resources to do projects throughout the Valley.”
“This success will act as a key motivator for residents, foundations, and agency funders in recognizing farmland conservation is a fundamental priority in sustaining our way of life now and for future generations,” said Mitchell.
California farmers keep producing more food on fewer acres, while our population keeps increasing. Farmland conservation efforts go hand in hand with the recent Farm to Fork movement, enabling the local eating movement that has exploded in popularity. Farmland is a vital component of a lifestyle that is full of fresh and healthy food and jobs; plus it gives open space that provides for cleaner air, ground water recharge, and wildlife habitat.
“It is amazing what a small organization can accomplish when it has a clear mission and stays focused on the one thing that will make a difference in the long run – protecting our working lands,” said Norton.
16,000 acres is 25 square miles, dotted across California’s Central Valley, of highly productive and unique land ideally suited for growing a wide variety of food from grains to specialty produce. That land will forever feed Californians, plus much of the U.S. and even the world.
If we consider that recent research indicates a family of four that eats meat, dairy and eggs would need around two acres of land to feed themselves for a year, that’s 9,000 families forever fed.
“Just think of how much more we can do if the momentum to make farmland conservation a priority is continued,” said Mitchell. “9,000 families can become 100,000 in a few short years.”
Find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter: @cafarmtrust
The California Farmland Trust is a California Non-Profit 501(c)(3). Our mission is to help farmers protect the best farmland in the world. To date we have protected 16,011 acres of farmland on 50 family farms. Visit us: http://cafarmtrust.org/
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