California Farmland Trust (CFT) is proud to announce the permanent protection of 327 acres of farmland two miles east of Los Banos, California. Farmed and owned by Bowles Farming Company, the addition of the Lone Tree Ranch agricultural conservation easement (ACE) exceeds 17,000 acres of total farmland protected by CFT.
Bowles Farming Company is a 160-year-old family farm, with agricultural roots stemming back to the mid-1800s. What started as a cattle and meat processing operation, has since vertically integrated into organic and conventional vegetable and fruit operations. The newly protected property is home to various irrigated field crops.
“California is the right place to grow so many healthy and nutritious crops, and the loss of California farms is a real problem,” said Cannon Michael, president and CEO of Bowles Farming Company. “With our family’s long legacy in farming, we wanted to see this land preserved and not converted to development like so much of the valley’s farmland.”
The farm involves the sixth generation of the Bowles and Lawrence families, making the desire to protect the historical land even greater. Putting these fields under an easement ensures their farming footprint will be available and secure for years to come.
“These subset fields under Bowles Farming Company are unique and valuable, in that they contain high quality soils, reliable water sources, produce high-yielding diversified crops, and incorporate practices which help sequester carbon to offset carbon impacts,” said Chelsea Slaton, conservation director at CFT. “With the growth pressure from the City of Los Banos, the protection of this property signifies the importance of productive farmland protection in order to store carbon and sustain the economy in an area designated by the state as a priority population.”
Funds for this project were made available through the California Strategic Growth Council’s (SGC) Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program (SALC), in collaboration with the Department of Conservation (DOC). SALC is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide program that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment – particular in disadvantaged communities.
“This farm has been cared for by two Californian families for over 150 years, and we are thrilled to see the SALC program contribute to its permanent conservation,” said Lynn von Koch-Liebert, executive director at SGC. “Congratulations to the Bowles and Lawrence families and the California Farmland Trust on the easement of this landmark property, which is home to numerous ecological and cultural treasures.”
CFT has worked to permanently protect farmland throughout six counties, with the majority of its ACEs located in Merced County. This property adds to that extensive portfolio in Merced County, where CFT now holds 35 ACEs, with 11,416 acres protected.