Pleasanton lays seeds for community farm

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Pleasanton lays seeds for community farm

Pleasanton lays seeds for community farm

PLEASANTON — The City Council this month gave the green light to begin planning a public farm that will contain vineyards and orchards on 29 acres.

The farm requires a master plan, essentially a blueprint for how two proposed parcels would pan out once the project is completed.

The total 318 acres of city-owned land south of Bernal Avenue was approved by voters in 2006 included ratification of 570 homes, commercial space, open space and this community farm. The farm would be located on two parcels of land located on the south-western portion of the Bernal property near Laguna Creek Lane, on either side of the I-680 freeway.

Originally, the farm was to include a livestock component, brought forth by the local Abbie 4-H Club. But the club recently struck a deal with the Alameda County Fairgrounds to raise livestock at a soon-to-be-constructed barn at the fairgrounds, according to the city. This would leave the community farm as only agricultural.

At a City Council meeting on March 21, Assistant City Manager Brian Dolan said that in doing research on community farms, the city looked at others in the Bay Area, such as one in San Jose and Cupertino.

“Much to our distress, the most successful farms require substantial operating budgets from the host city,” Dolan said.

That wasn’t the thinking when this first came on the city’s radar, he said. The city’s capitol improvement program allocates $100,000 to prepare the farm master plan. Included in the price is a $69,762 contract with MD Fotheringham, a landscape architect that will complete the master plan. Council approved the contract at its meeting.

City Manager Nelson Fialho said that the Marilyn Murphy Kane trail, which is along the property, would remain open. As part of the master plan, there would need to be discussion as to who would be responsible for managing the site once it is complete. Such discussions would be at least a year from now, he said.

Staff would reach out to other organizations to see if they would want to partner with the city for the farm.

Representatives from the Master Gardeners Demonstration Garden, a part of the University of California, cited the need for a community garden in Pleasanton.

But some neighbors who live nearby the parcels voiced concerns about a decline in property values, parking, and the general impact the farm could have on their neighborhood.

“I do not want 3,000 people being educated in my backyard,” one neighbor siad.

Bob Brown, who advocated for bringing the community farm to Pleasanton, called it a valuable asset that can serve not only those involved with 4-H, but also Boys and Girls Scouts, and the school district as a learning center for children.

Fialho addressed parking concerns by pointing out that the council recently approved a $150,000 grant for the design and expansion of the nearby Cubby Dog Park, which would add more parking spaces.

Councilwoman Kathy Narum said the farm was a great idea, and that the city needs to be sensitive to neighbors living nearby. She suggested posting signs to inform residents that the area is under discussion.

“I hope that through this orchard, we can show our children that food doesn’t come from the local grocery store,” Narum said.

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Published at Fri, 24 Mar 2017 13:17:04 +0000