Monday, August 12, 2013

With the news last Friday that construction is beginning on Martial Cottle Park, we are reminded of the loss of farmland in Santa Clara County and of the urgent need to preserve the farmland that remains. Just a few decades ago, Silicon Valley was known as the “Valley of Heart’s Delight” due to the thousands of acres of prune, apricot and cherry orchards that bloomed here. It is hard to believe that in so short a time those orchards and fields have been replaced with the uninterrupted sprawl of subdivisions, freeways, and office parks.
Just as Walter Cottle Lester’s 287-acre farm just north of Highway 85 has stood for decades as a refreshing oasis of farmland in the midst of rapidly spreading sprawl, now Martial Cottle Park (named for Lester’s grandfather) will preserve that oasis of green, maintaining most of the land in agriculture while also offering a wonderful opportunity for urban residents to experience this beautiful property. Martial Cottle Park will include a community garden, a 4-H center, an educational “discovery farm,” a native plant nursery, and a trail around the perimeter of the property.
While Martial Cottle Park is one victory in the battle to save farmland, such victories are increasingly rare. Farmland loss in California is reaching a critical stage.  With more than half a million acres of farmland statewide converted to other uses from 1990-2004, and with 2 million more acres anticipated to be converted to other uses by 2050, California needs to take concrete steps to protect this irreplaceable resource. Each year approximately 30,000 acres of California’s agricultural lands are expected to be lost at the current rate of conversion that we are experiencing. 
This is not just about urban sprawl and the loss of open space. If we do not preserve farmland for future generations of farmers, we put our future food security at risk. In Santa Clara County, approximately 27,000 acres of farmland have already been lost. If we value access to locally grown food and the role that agriculture plays in the economy of our region, we must act to preserve farmland before it disappears forever.

Join Committee for Green Foothills for Harvesting Opportunity: Santa Clara Valley Farm Tour on Sunday, August 18, 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.! Go to to sign up, or call us at (650) 968-7243 x. 314.