Friday, September 10, 2010

Guest Post by CGF Intern Anthony Aerts

(CGF Intern Anthony Aerts gave us this final write-up about his time with us this summer.  Thanks for all the help, Anthony!  -Brian)


My Time at CGF

Today was the final day of my summer internship with CGF. It’s hard to believe that ten weeks can go by so quickly. During my time here, I was fortunate to be given the responsibility and independence to complete three diverse projects. I was also lucky to be able to work and learn from both Brian and Cynthia on a one-on-one basis. For ten weeks, I felt not like a grunt worker, but a part of the CGF team.
Some of my earliest work consisted of researching the current hillside development regulations in place for various jurisdictions in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. I collected data from the each jurisdiction’s zoning code for relevant regulatory measures. These measures included green building standards, house size limits, building height limits, light reflectance values, and transferable development credits. As a final product, I combined these findings into a forward-looking project proposal for future hillside development research to combat urban sprawl in the Bay Area.

Second, I worked closely with Cynthia to develop a write-up on the historical ecology of the San Francisquito Creek watershed. This watershed will face many biologic and jurisdictional challenges in the years to come, and CGF may have a role to play. My summary was used to compliment the more extensive cultural study done on the Creek’s lower watershed by co-intern, Annika Christensen. Hopefully this project can be of use to the debate and planning around one of Santa Clara’s most valuable natural resources.

Finally, the project which required most of my time involved creating, with Brian’s help, a position statement on subsidized water for urban edge farms. While subsidies are normally discouraged by environmentalists when they lead to waste, we had reason to believe that this label may not necessarily be appropriate for urban edge farms who engage in water conservation practices. CGF considers all farms in Santa Clara County to be urban edge. As such, they provide many environmental benefits as buffers to urban sprawl and preservers of cultural/historic values. I was fortunate enough to conduct informational interviews with five farmers in the region, and the testimony I collected formed a supporting document to the position statement. We concluded that water subsidies do play a role in helping these urban edge farms stay economically viability and continue to provide the above mentioned environmental benefits. This project was an important exercise in unifying the visions of the farming and environmental communities; something that will be increasingly important for both sides going forward.

I appreciate all that I have learned here at CGF and all of you who I met this summer. 

Happy trails -- Anthony

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