Sparing one of Half Moon Bay’s last remaining farms from being developed into luxury homes, the Peninsula Open Space District announced it’s keeping the Andreotti family in business.
The nonprofit POST reached a deal to purchase 18.5 acres of farmland along Kelly Avenue for $3.95 million from an Andreotti family trust. The land is perhaps best known by the public for its quaint barn built in the late 1800s, which the family operates as a produce stand. The sun-stained wooden structure backdropped against farmlands and a field of sunflowers is a popular destination for beachgoers and the community.
The agreement will allow Dino and Terry Andreotti, longtime farmers of the property, to continue their trade. The family sold the land to POST with the condition it remains used for agriculture. In the near term, Dino and Terry Andreotti will lease the property from the nonprofit to continue the farm stand and plant fields for fall harvest, according to POST.
“The coast has a long history of agriculture but finding a farm within the Half Moon Bay City limits, like this one, is now very rare,” POST President Walter T. Moore said in a press release. “This project allows a legacy of farming to continue not only for Andreotti family but for the community. This is exactly why we started our Farmland Future Initiatives — to ensure farming continues to be part of the coastal character and way of life.”
POST’s initiative seeks to preserve half of the remaining farmland on the San Mateo County coastside by 2030. Since starting in 2015, it’s preserved 178 acres and invested $1.1 million toward infrastructure to make farming more viable in the future, according to POST. It’s an important mission to the nonprofit as local farmlands have been disappearing at an alarming rate with the county having lost 35 percent of its agricultural lands over the last 30 years, according to POST.
The Andreottis’ nearly century-long history of working the Half Moon Bay farm was also thought to be at risk.
Following the death of the Andreottis’ matriarch in 2013, the family began to sell off land it owned across the street from their farm. Previously, the family would allow for a small fee visitors to park on the lots just down the street from the popular Half Moon Bay State Beach. Now, much of the open space is being transformed into housing.
The Half Moon Bay Review reported there was a dispute amongst family members over what to do with the inherited property, with some interested in selling it to developers. Several once-vacant lots zoned for residential developments immediately south of the farm stand have been sold off over the last few years for about $365,000 to $425,000 each, according to county records. Now, at least three are in various stages of development with single-family homes slated for the lots, according to the city.
Apparently concerned about the prospect of the family farm being sold off to luxury developers, POST and those working the land arrived at a deal. Dino Andreotti plans to continue farming the 18 acres his family has worked since the 1920s. The property has prime soil that produce a variety of vegetables available at the barn stand and local farmers’ markets, according to POST.
“This land is why we are here. My goal in life is to keep this farm going and the legacy of my dad alive. It is my hope that it never leaves the family,” Dino Andreotti said in the press release.
The easement placed over the land as part of POST’s purchase will ensure it permanently remains available for agricultural production. The agreement is also slated to protect more than 1,500 feet of the nearby Pilarcitos Creek, which is habitat to endangered and threatened species, according to POST.
“The Andreottis and this farm have been a cornerstone of this community for decades,” Jo Chamberlain, executive director of the Coastside Land Trust said in the release. “We are thrilled that POST has been able to protect this open space in the middle of Half Moon Bay as well as to keep this farm in production. It is important to the rural character of our town.”
With the Bay Area’s skyrocketing housing costs and the Peninsula’s limited land at a premium, proponents of preserving farmland are pleased with POST’s most recent purchase.
“Everything around here is getting built up, but we want to continue to tend this land the way we have been doing it all our lives,” Terry Andreotti said in the press release. “This farm isn’t just for us, it is for all of us to enjoy. If it wasn’t for POST, this would never have happened.”
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