Save BAREC: Santa Clara needs sustainable agriculture

by Caroline Brown


The Bay Area Research and Extension Center (BAREC) is 17 acres of agriculturally- zoned open space on the border of the cities of San Jose (where I used to live) and Santa Clara, California.

But BAREC’s current owners, the State of California, have been blinded by dollar signs and have made plans to sell the property to real estate developers.

An oasis of farmland and palm trees in the middle of suburban bungalows and mall-sprawl, BAREC was used by the state from 1928-2003 for agricultural research. The citizens of California own half of this land–they contributed more than half of the money used to purchase and build structures on the site.

But BAREC is on the verge of being lost forever because the State has agreed to sell the land to a real estate developer and the City of Santa Clara, who wish to use it for high-density housing. There are no plans to re-create or relocate the facilities or preserve any of BAREC’s historical value to the community or state.

The City of Santa Clara would prefer to build 100 single-family homes and a high-density senior housing development…and oh yeah, a 1-acre park. The city wins because they get tax revenues, the developer wins because they sell houses at stupidly astronomical prices, the state wins because they get graft a good price from the developer, and the people of Santa Clara….well they get a whole bunch more CARS and PEOPLE (just what the area needs) and a puny 1-acre park. (Cold comfort: at least another mall isn’t part of the plan.)

An organization called Save BAREC has a better idea: they want to return the land to its agricultural roots (sorry!) by developing a model public property for sustainable gardening and agriculture. The agricultural infrastructure remains on the property, and it has some of the most fertile soil in the Valley. Save BAREC has proposed a plan that includes a fruit orchard, organic farm crops, native plants garden, children’s and public demonstration gardens, greenhouses, and even a visitor’s center.

This is an opportunity for the state of California and the city of Santa Clara to show leadership in sustainable agriculture. If you’re interested in helping out, please contact Save BAREC at 1-888-BAREC-80 or check out their website. Add their link to your website or blog because it helps them get more Google hits. And if you’re in the Bay area, you can visit them at their table at the Santana Row Farmer’s Market, every Sunday from 10 am-3 pm.

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7 Comments to “Save BAREC: Santa Clara needs sustainable agriculture”

  1. This is a great organization and a great concept. Not everything should be paved over. Why not use the land as an example – right in the heart of an innovative region – as a way to educate people about sustainable farming and local agriculture.

    Perhaps BAREC’s challenge will be that people in San Jose are pretty used to development. It’s well known in San Jose that the entire valley used to be fruit orchards. This looks like the last piece of sizable farmland in Silicon Valley. California prides itself on innovation. Why not innovate the way the land is used?

  2. Great job showcasing BAREC facts Caroline! The SaveBAREC group is not opposed to development in general… this historical piece of agricultural land is just NOT the right place to put more housing. It can be used for so much more, not just for urban Silicon Valley, but for the community at large. The city and state leaders need to step up and think ahead for future generations.
    Keep up the awesome work. I totally enjoy reading your entries and learning from them. It’s wonderful that you joined the MG program. Garden on!

  3. Agricultural research should be done in agricultural areas, not “in the middle of suburban bungalows and mall-sprawl.” Save BAREC’s proposal is counter-intuitive, not innovative. Also, there is nothing to “save,” BAREC was gone years ago.

  4. Bob, I appreciate your comment and that you took the time to read the article. However, your comment indicates that you don’t know or understand the purpose of Save BAREC. They are not advocating that the property be used for agricultural research–that was its former use. If you check out http://www.savebarec.org, you will see that they are advocating that the land be used for public gardens, which are found in countless urban and suburban communities in the U.S.

    I hope that you “get” this–don’t let your ignorance allow you to oppose the group and its agenda. Find out the facts before you judge: http://www.savebarec.org. Then if you want to oppose it that’s your business. But don’t be ignorant about it.

  5. Hi Bob,

    It seems you really don’t understand what is going on. We are not trying to save teh Bay Area Research and Exension Center (BAREC) for the uses it used to perform. That’s never been our mission. BAREC is what the land is know as now so we kept the name; that’s it. The 17 acre parcel of land can help to provide for sustainable living through urban agriculture. I’d like to hear more from you Bob. It sounds like you are from the Bay Area. I man an information booth at the Santana Row Farmers’ Market every Sunday from 10am-3pm. I’d be happy to explain what we are suggesting in person. This is government land (not UC land) and “We The People” have the right to determine what is done with state land. The web site: http://www.savebarec.org,

    Hope to hear from you.

    -Kirk
    kirk@savebarec.org

  6. Caroline, Kirk, I’ve looked at the site. The name itself and the messaging is unclear.
    Saving “BAREC” implies saving a research center!
    An example from the site: the sign on the truck says “Protect this important research center, its history and its open space”
    http://savebarec.org/images/barec-truck-web/pages/original-sign-modified.htm

    Perhaps if you clarified the messaging you would get more support? Parks and gardens sound great. Agricultural research sounds out of place.

  7. Thank you for reading the web site. We had to go with “BAREC” as the name as that was the last name it had before it closed. I personally like the name:
    Sustainable Living Center of Excellence (SLiCE).

    It says what it is…the only probalem is no one knows that what is yet. We need to go with BAREC as name since that is what people associate with the property. Now that you see the uses for the land, I hope you agree with the vision for sustainable living.

    Thanks for your input!

    -Kirk

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