The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors voted yesterday to open county land — including parts of parks, open space parcels and vacant lots in residential areas — to community gardeners and small commercial farmers, according to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
The initiative is designed to make land available for agricultural production in an area where high land values make it nearly impossible to farm.
UC Cooperative Extension in Sonoma County will conduct an inventory to identify suitable land for the project. The researchers will consider property owned by the county water agency and land controlled by the general services department, the article said. The study and plans for application and training will be be completed in June.
“We've got this land. How do we go about giving people access to it?” the article quoted Stephanie Larson, director of UCCE in Sonoma County.
The program was praised by health advocates — who believe more local farming and gardening could ease the county's obesity rate — and small-scale farmers.
“There are a lot of young farmers who want to get into business,” Santa Rosa small farmer Wayne James told reporter Brett Wilkison. “(The county) should really be doing more of this.”