Tuesday, May 19, 2009

a sad mosey

Last Friday at noon I headed out for Rio Vista - where we were having a Celebrating Creation event on Saturday - the long way, heading down through Marin, Vallejo and Benicia, then east on 4. My goal was to find some local produce to serve at lunchtime on Saturday.

I think I must have been having fantasies about Brentwood. Probably it was the Buy Fresh, Buy Local signs the community features. I was ready!

But what a disappointment. Many farm stands simply were not open yet - though promotional materials say they are. One I found specializes in dry fruit and nuts, and sits right in the middle of a new subdivision. I asked the owner where some of the nuts - kinds I know don't grow around here - came from. She was a little vague, and I asked if nuts in the shell weren't subject to COOL? She didn't know what that was.

Onward I drove, taking in the sights. Strip malls, box store arrays, subdivisions with 2 story 2000 sq ft houses cheek by jowl, and apartment (or condo?) complexes that looked like public housing. A particularly sad sight was a van advertising "foreclosure tours". Looking around, I wondered how many of the folks who live in Antioch and Brentwood were in flight from the urban East Bay, taking advantage of no down payment, adjustable rate financing - and now are wondering just what they've done.

Then, continuing east, there was a sudden end of the subdivisions - well, maybe there was a small one here and there, old enough to have trees as tall as the two story buildings. But even here in the open space, many of the orchards seemed to be on the way out, vegetable crops, too, and horses and grapes on the way in.

I did find one cherry orchard that was open and selling - and the cherries were good - because they were all ripe. And finally somewhere between Knightsen and Oakley I found a farm stand selling strawberries, asparagus, eggs and lemons.

One hope I have is that the real estate bust will slow the rising land prices, and the encroaching housing, and leave more of the fertile land bordering the Delta for agriculture. The Brentwood Land Trust is apparently committed to preserving ag land, so the Bay Area can eat when we run out of oil - even though this wasn't apparent just driving around.
I also hope the farmers in the Brentwood area will wise up - that if you are going to advertise as an area to Buy Fresh, Buy Local, you need to have more crop variety year round. If I can do it in my little community garden plot, they can, too...

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