"The best way to preserve the land is to make farming profitable," says BALT Executive Director Kathryn Lyddan. After surveys and dialogue, "BALT acted on the farmers' request for a regional marketing campaign to promote Brentwood as an agricultural region based on place instead of product and to get the community to buy locally," she said.
Lyddan explained that she is eager to remind the Bay Area that Brentwood is still a vital agricultural community. "Some people tell me that they used to come down to Brentwood to pick fruit. Many think that the farms are gone, probably because of the rapid developments here."
There is a new trend among consumers to want to eat locally - possibly a bigger trend than eating organic - because people seem to want to connect with the land and eat fresh.
"Did you know that an average piece of fruit travels 15,000 miles? This process wastes a lot of resources - from fossil fuels to time and freshness," Lyddan explained. "A huge amount of cost goes to packaging, transportation and distribution. Out of every dollar you pay, the farmer gets only 9 cents. Whereas when you buy from local farms and U-picks, most of the money goes back to the farmers."
BALT has encouraged farmers, supermarkets and restaurants that carry local food to sign up for the Buy Fresh, Buy Local marketing campaign. Campaign members will use marketing materials such as banners, bumper stickers, signs and personalized bags and seals to get the word out that the produce is grown locally.
"When buying corn, many people still ask, 'Is this from Brentwood?' because Brentwood corn is the best," says Lyddan. "Personally, I buy locally because of the taste. A tomato that grows on the vine from Smith Farms is more delicious and fresher than a tomato that has come all the way from, let's say, Chile.
"Though we can't fully eat locally, we get a sense of season," she said. "We look forward to the harvest of the season. We feel a sense of our place on this Earth, too. Plus, my food dollars stay in the community instead of spending it in the global marketplace."
Lyddan explains that buying wine is a good example of how people should also buy food. "Wine drinkers are very concerned about where the grapes come from because the soil, the weather, the location, will produce a completely particular grape.
"Brentwood has a completely unique climate, with ample soil and water," she said. "I hope this local food movement in the Bay Area will catch on in Brentwood, to educate people of the impact of buying locally - food is more delicious and resources are not wasted."
For more information, call BALT at 634-6738 or visit www.brentwoodaglandtrust.org.