Bay Area Farm Trail Feasibility Study (2014)

Funder: Mary A. Crocker Trust

Partner: GreenInfo Network

Date of project: 2014

Sustainable Agriculture Education (SAGE) conducted a Feasibility Study for a Bay Area Farm Trail.  The purpose of the Bay Area Farm Trail would be to promote as an integrated resource the existing farm, cheese and wine trails, as well as other agricultural destinations, in order to build public awareness of and support for regional agriculture.  The goal for the Bay Area Farm Trail Feasibility Study is to determine whether such a project is desirable to key stakeholders, and if so, whether implementation would be feasible.

Providing this interface would help increase public support of and engagement with regional agriculture, land use decisions, and long-term regional sustainability. The initial concept for the Bay Area Farm Trail, like a sister to the Ridge Trail and Bay Trail, is a series of connected routes through the main valleys of our region’s working lands. The Farm Trail would emphasize the rich agricultural resources and traditions of the Bay Area while building a constituency to protect and sustain local agriculture.

Objectives of the Bay Area Farm Trail:

  • Provide linkages between existing farm, cheese and wine trails as a way to build public awareness of and support for regional agriculture
  • Link farms, ranches, vineyards (including u-pick, farmstand and homestay operations), rural nursery clusters, and agricultural education destinations that fall outside the scope of current farm trails into the Bay Area Farm Trail
  • Link farm trails with other regional vehicular and non-vehicular trail systems, including the Ridge Trail, Bay Trail, Coastal Trail and many regional and state park trail systems
  • Synergize with other regional conservation planning, mapping and linkage projects, ultimately serving to coordinate, enhance and unify existing efforts

Potential benefits include:  providing economic benefits to regional producers and raising the profile of our raising the profile of our region’s diverse agricultural production. Potential challenges include:  farmers and ranchers getting unwanted visitors and/or visibility; and potential competition with existing membership agritourism/farm trail organizations.

The goal for the Bay Area Farm Trail Feasibility Study is to determine whether such a project is feasible and desirable to various stakeholders. Stakeholders include all Bay Area Farm Trail organizations; organizations and agencies involved in the linked sustainability of regional agriculture, land conservation, and livable communities; and also farmers, ranchers, and other entities that promote urban-rural linkage efforts.  SAGE developed an assessment instrument, which we disseminated to around 100 stakeholders in all. We also concluded that we needed more feedback from a broader group of regional stakeholders, especially from farmers and ranchers, about goals, strategies, and management of the prospective Bay Area Farm Trail.