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(Palo Alto, Calif.) – The Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) announced the permanent protection of 313 farmland acres through the purchase of two affirmative agricultural easements—one on 300-acre Potrero Nuevo Farm, just south of Half Moon Bay, and one on 13 acres of Pie Ranch, an educational farm in Pescadero.
POST is one of the first early land trusts in the country to use affirmative agricultural easements for permanent farmland protection. This innovative type of easement not only protects the conservation values of the property, but also requires the preserved land to remain in agricultural production. “As our thinking about farmland has evolved, so too have the tools required to conserve the land,” said POST President, Walter T. Moore. “Placing this type of easement on Potrero Nuevo and Pie Ranch ensures both farms will permanently nourish the community through the open spcae, local food and scenic beauty they provide.”
POST’s successful completion of these two projects, in close cooperation with the owners of Potrero Nuevo Farm and Pie Ranch, represents an important milestone towards achieving the goals of the Farmland Futures Initiative. Launched on February 4, 2016, the initiative aims to triple the number of preserved farms and triple the amount of preserved farmland acres on the San Mateo coast over the next 10 years.
Pie Ranch (pieranch.org) is the first property on the San Mateo coast protected by an affirmative agricultural easement. A prime example of how farms can nourish the local community, Pie Ranch is an organic educational farm teaching the next generation of farmers and local students how to be good stewards of the land through sustainable agriculture. Their wide variety of crops are available to the public through their CSA program and their Highway 1 farm stand which hosts up to 5,000 visitors annually.
Jered Lawson and Nancy Vail, co-founders of Pie Ranch, purchased the lower portion of the property from POST in 2010, subject to a conservation easement. In 2015, the easement was upgraded to an affirmative agricultural easement, ensuring the property will remain in organic agricultural production forever. The natural resources of the property are also protected with the easement.
POST also worked with Potrero Nuevo Farm (potreronuevofarm.org) owners, Christine Pielenz and William Laven, to place an affirmative easement on their 300-acre farm. “As new farmers to the coast in 2008, we quickly saw the alarming pace at which agricultural land was being lost to development. An affirmative agricultural easement with POST ensures the agricultural value and natural beauty of our farm could be protected,” said William Laven. “Through this easement, and donating the land to POST in our estate plans, we can now guarantee this land will forever be protected, farmed and grazed with methods that regenerate the land’s fertility and increase wildlife habitat.”
The affirmative agricultural easement on Potrero Nuevo Farm requires portions of the property be used permanently for row-crop production while 250 acres of pastureland are protected for grazing. The natural resources of the property are also protected with the easement—including 19-acres of prime wildlife habitat along Tunitas Creek.
Over 40 organic crops are grown on Potrero Nuevo, most of which is donated to local community members in need, in partnerships with local charities. Remaining crops are available to the public through their U-Pick Program, which allows members to intimately experience the source of their food. From June to November, club members can visit the farm to harvest their own vegetables, berries, herbs and flowers.
Upgrading existing conservation easements to include agricultural provisions is one of the many ways POST will work in close cooperation with farmers and landowners to meet goals of Farmland Futures Initiative. We are grateful to both Pie Ranch and Potrero Nuevo Farm for their leadership on these recent successes.
About the Farmland Futures Initiative
In San Mateo County alone, over 35% of farmland has been lost in the last 30 years. POST’s Farmland Futures Initiative (farmlandfutures.org) seeks to stem this trend through a combination of land acquisition and legal protections to triple the number of farms and farmland acres permanently protected for agriculture on the San Mateo Coast over the next decade.
About the Peninsula Open Space Trust
POST is a leading private, nonprofit land trust that protects and cares for open space, farms and parkland in and around Silicon Valley. Since its founding in 1977, POST has been responsible for saving more than 75,000 acres as permanent open space and parkland in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. openspacetrust.org
Senior Manager, Communications
Phone: (650) 854-7696 x341
Email: bfriedeman [at] openspacetrust [dot] org
Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) protects open space on the Peninsula and in the South Bay for the benefit of all. Since its founding in 1977, POST has been responsible for saving more than 76,000 acres as permanently protected land in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties.