From the Agricultural Land Conservation Easement Summary website
The California Strategic Growth Council has announced funding for strategic agricultural conservation easement purchases throughout California, including an award to the Brentwood Agricultural Land Trust for a 551-acre acquisition, directly east of Discovery Bay.
This 551-acre property is the first phase in a two-phase project to protect 1,100 acres of farmland adjacent to Discovery Bay. Fifth generation family farmers grow organic produce such as asparagus, Brentwood sweet corn, alfalfa, meadow hay, and other vegetable row crops. The owners also run a non-profit that includes a farm incubator program to train new farmers, an afterschool program and a farm program for special education students on 10 acres of the farm. The non-profit community farm has donated more than 60,000 lbs. of organic produce to local food banks. A portion of the site is also leased to a neighbor for cultivation. The property has senior riparian water rights to Old River and is located in the secondary zone of the Delta.
Strategic Value of the Project
The property was subject to a purchase and sale agreement with a real estate development company from 2013 to 2016, although the agreement expired when the developer failed to make a scheduled payment. The company had planned a development that included 3,029 homes on the site. Additional developers have since expressed a desire to purchase the property. Conservation of this farm would prohibit the eastward expansion of Discovery Bay and preserve a vital source of organic produce for nearby disadvantaged communities.
The site serves as Swanson’s Hawk habitat and allows for local groundwater recharge. It also provides a viewshed for homes in the Discovery Bay community.
Local governmental and non-profit organizations (e.g., Contra Costa LAFCO, the Contra Costa Transportation Authority, and the Nature Conservancy) are considering the adoption of agricultural mitigation policies to address the conversion of agricultural land to non-agricultural uses. The discussions to adopt these policies indicates a nascent local coordinated effort towards the permanent protection of agricultural lands