Agrihood: CA's largest urban farm that combines affordable housing opens in Santa Clara

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Thursday, September 21, 2023
CA's largest urban farm opens in Bay Area, combines affordable housing
California's largest urban farm, Agrihood, which also has 165 affordable units for senior and veteran residents is opening in Santa Clara.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KGO) -- A new farm is now open in one of the busiest areas in the South Bay.

Officials say it's the largest urban farm in the state, calling it "a first-of-its-kind space."

The site is located on North Winchester Boulevard in Santa Clara near the border of San Jose.

The farm boasts crops like sweet potato, parsley, bell peppers and much more growing just a short walk away from Westfield Valley Fair mall and Santana Row in the South Bay.

It's called Agrihood.

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"This is the first urban Agrihood, in a city of this size in any city in this country and it's got an agricultural working farm here," said Kirk Vartan, a driving force behind the beginnings of the farm.

More than a farm, Agrihood is also the site of affordable housing with a focus on senior and veteran residents. It provides not just a place to live and access produce, but also a community with farmers markets and gardening lessons.

"It's going to give them something to do, places to be," said City of Santa Clara Mayor Lisa M. Gillmor. "We're gonna have 50 pop-up events a year here, so they're gonna meet each other, have fun together and really enhance their quality of life."

Vartan and other community members started encouraging the city 20 years ago to revitalize the former UC Davis agriculture site. They finally made major strides in 2014.

"I started connecting and we started engaging community and we started having meeting after meeting," he said.

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The 2016 Measure A Affordable Housing Bond brought $23.5 million to the project and the City of Santa Clara brought in $15 million eventually bringing in a master developer called the Core Companies.

There have been 165 affordable units allocated for older adults, including 54 units of permanent supportive housing.

"It was really important to look at what are we building and who are we serving, and we know that our homeless population is aging," said Consuelo Hernandez, director of the Santa Clara County Office of Supportive Housing. "Agrihood is responding to that need."

Residents have already started moving into units with more expected.

Though the housing is key, those behind the urban farm say the brand-new space is for everyone.

"It's not just for the residents. It's for everybody," Vartan said. "And that's really the goal is so this is this is a community public asset. 'How does public space serve the public?' and that's really what I think this will do."

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