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.