Sonoma Aims to Keep Them Down on the Farm

County officials keep a corner of California safe from developers

By Jackson West
|  Tuesday, Dec 15, 2009  |  Updated 3:30 PM PDT
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Sonoma Aims to Keep Them Down on the Farm

Tara Firma Farms

Happy cows don't live in McMansions on car-centric suburban cul-de-sacs.

Locavores and urbanists love their farmer's markets and public transportation, but making life in the city healthier and more comfortable will require help from country bumpkins around the Bay Area.

For instance, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors struck a blow against sprawl with a new conservation easement that will protect 238 acres of wilderness and farmland near Petaluma.

The land includes Tara Firma Farms, operated by owners Craig and Tara Smith, which raises vegetables and livestock, including delicious pigs, cows and chickens.

The easement includes a $2.3 million investment in the farm, which should help it remain viable as a family operation that competes against heavily subsidized industrial agribusiness giants like ConAgra and Archer-Daniels Midland.

For their part, the Smiths will make a trail publicly accessible. The farm already hosts tours and events, such as its annual "Pumpkins on Pikes" Halloween festival.

The easement is the latest addition to the 80,000 acres preserved by the Sonoma County Agricultural and Open Space District.

Jackson West lost a favorite farm in Washington State to a McMansion.

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