General Question

Carly's avatar

Where are the best places in the Bay Area to start a farm?

Asked by Carly (4550points) September 2nd, 2010

I’ve grown up in several cities within the Bay Area, so I know that there are many micro-climates all around. Right now I’m looking into the possibility of starting my own agriculture business to hopefully produce the following:
– Any kinds of fruits/vegetables that grow in the Northern California region.
– Chickens, eggs, and goat cheese.
– honey (if the bees can tolerate the climate)

Do you have any suggestions for areas around the Bay that would be good for a start-up farm?

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8 Answers

GeorgeGee's avatar

The land prices in this area are among the highest in the nation, so I hope this is a sideline and not how you hope to make a living. If you have a few million $$ to plunk down, your best bet would be Napa Valley, where much of the nation’s wine grapes are raised. If you’re creative and energetic, you might be able to work out a deal with local building owners to develop one or more rooftop farms, citing the energy savings they could realize by having a “green roof.”

wundayatta's avatar

You might look into “brown fields” farming. This is where former industrial areas are reclaimed for farming. It is often possible to get grants to start these things. Bees have no problem growing in urban areas. I can’t imagine that goats would be a problem, and of course, vegies are not a big deal. Probably a lot of composted material is easily available.

The advantage of urban farming is the reduced cost of transportation to market. SF being the kind of place it is, would probably go for urban produce big time, even if they have to pay more for it. You could easily get publicity, I’m sure, especially if you were doing something that no other urban farm is currently doing.

You’d have to research current urban farms and go visit them and find out how they did it and how they are doing. Ask about financing as well as farming issues. Make friends. Become part of a network. Go to farmer’s markets and make friends there.

The best way to do this is to walk around. You’ll find land that is open, and then you can see if it is available. If it works, you can hire lots of hard-to-employ folks and gain some brownie points (as well as tax breaks) that way.

Coloma's avatar

Can you relocate?

I live in El Dorado county, a great farm zone for fruits, bees, and all sorts of livestock raising from Alpacas to goats.

The vineyards and wineries are rivaling Napa in their own unique popularity.

Lots of reasonably priced parcels right now, average 5–10 acres.

Nullo's avatar

Popular Mechanics ran an article not all that long ago about a woman who started a farm in Oakland on an empty lot.

josie's avatar


zenvelo's avatar

It’s expensive to get land but I’d say West Marin, or between Petaluma and Bodega Bay. Best mix of weather and soil.

YARNLADY's avatar

This article describes what I would suggest, networking with home owners.

We have a “community garden“ here where I live. There are also several large, inaccessible land plots that are rented out for livestock. No houses can be built there, but they are ideal for farming. There is a small creek for water, and the current tenant uses a cart to take in supplies.

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