Press Release: April 20, 2017
CoCo San Sustainable Farm Project Moving Forward Thanks to $80,000 in Recently-Secured Funding Commitments Funds will be used to assemble a solar light greenhouse as part of the project’s innovative approaches to providing low-cost produce for the community; Total project funding exceeds $100,000, including contributions from Contra Costa County and a personal donation from National University System Chancellor Dr. Michael R. Cunningham. Martinez, Calif.
- An innovative urban sustainable farm project in Contra Costa County that will provide produce for a local food bank and schools has taken a major step forward. The CoCo San Sustainable Farm, a project of non-profit AgLantis (501c-3), recently secured a $50,000 contribution from the County to help build a 6,000-square-foot hydroponics greenhouse on a buffer land section of the Central Contra Costa Sanitary District located in Contra Costa County’s Northern Waterfront. The recent development brings the project’s total funding to more than $100,000, which includes a donation from National University System Chancellor Dr. Michael R. Cunningham, who is personally contributing a total of $30,000 over three years.
AgraTech Solar Light Greenhouse
The most recent $50,000 support, which comes from the Contra Costa County Livable Communities Trust Fund at the recommendation of Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors Federal Glover and Karen Mitchoff, is for the assembly of a 6000 square foot, high-tech, commercial greenhouse donated by AgraTech, Inc., of Pittsburg, CA. Thanks to the latest funding, the greenhouse is expected to be built in 2017. AgLantis will be raising funds from the community to build the required fencing and to equip the greenhouse. The aim of the CoCo San Sustainable Farm is to grow produce on the 15-acre urban farm in 2018.
The project addresses a need to reduce nutritional poverty – an issue of global importance – by providing access to free or low-cost fresh produce through a unique combination of using urban public buffer land , community involvement, otherwise wasted recycled water, and harnessing the produce growth efficiencies of greenhouses.
“Very seldom are you able to work on something of this magnitude that has such a widespread impact on the public good,” said Carolyn Phinney, President of AgLantis. “The CoCo San Sustainable Farm will be able to feed a countless number of people who might otherwise go hungry; it will serve as a vehicle to educate a large number of students; it will use high-quality, recycled water; and because it has brought so many people together, it is doing so much in building a community. You can’t ask for more than that.”
The project aligns with the County’s Livable Communities Trust Fund’s goals in promoting innovative land use planning and design principles, and promoting economic revitalization. According to the project plans, CoCo Sustainable Farm, situated in Contra Costa County’s Northern Waterfront across state Route 4 from Buchanan Field Airport, will be irrigated by recycled, nutrient-rich, agricultural grade water that currently ends up in the Suisun Bay as treated wastewater. Also, the farm will benefit from the efficiencies of greenhouse production, which produces up to 40 times the volume of food at one-tenth the water use.
The Contra Costa Food Bank, located about a mile away, will pick up and distributing fresh produce from the farm to its clients and area schools. Community supported agriculture boxes from the farm will provide low-cost, seasonal food to local residents. And the farm hopes to be a jobs incubator for the green economy. Upcoming plans for the project include constructing fences and a water delivery system to irrigate the farm, amending the soil on the 15 acres, and building a road with recycled asphalt to access the site.
In addition, CoCo San Sustainable Farm will serve an educational function, serving as a hands-on outdoor classroom for students (especially from Diablo Valley College, Horticulture Program) and local residents, highlighting that every aspect of science and engineering happens on a farm: physics, soil science, hydrology, microbiology, and even psychology along with mechanical, electrical and civil engineering. Local John F. Kennedy University, an affiliate of the National University System, also plans to have students involved in the farm.
“The community support has been truly inspiring,” said Phinney. “It really underscores what can happen when people come together for the common good.”
In addition to the recent contributions, Tesoro has donated $15,000; PG&E has provided $7,500 in support, and Leigh E. Johnson (Trial Whisperer) has been an ongoing major individual donor. Community donations have exceeded $10,000; Phinney said. The Central Contra Costa Sanitary District is leasing the land to AgLantis for $1 per year and providing all the tertiary treated water it needs for the effort. Others donating services, funds, or materials include County Quarry (donating the road and pad for the greenhouse), and other in-kind donation from Republic Services, Davey Tree Service, and Discovery Homes. All of the labor for the last six years of developing this project has been donated. Another $100,000 is needed to fence the farm and equip the hydroponics greenhouse.
AgLantis is a California non-profit public benefit corporation, 501c-3. The work being done on the CoCo San Sustainable Farm has a quadruple bottom line – social Equity, Educational, Environmental and Economic. This farm is a model for healthy, fresh, affordable, local fresh produce; education for the community; environmental protection; and green job creation.