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Board of Supervisors considers expanding access to public land

Sonoma County officials are seeking public input Wednesday evening on a plan that would enable community gardens on county-owned land.

The initiative would open up pieces of parkland, open space and other vacant county property to gardeners. It was endorsed last year by county supervisors as a key way to provide easier access to high-quality food, especially for low-income populations.

A pilot project launched last year has transformed a corner of Larson Regional Park in Boyes Hot Springs into a vegetable garden tended by a coalition of nonprofit groups and community members.

To expand the effort, county officials have selected 10 additional garden sites, most less than an acre. They include spots in Maxwell Farms Regional Park in Sonoma, Maddux Ranch Community Park north of Santa Rosa and Ragle Ranch Regional Park in Sebastopol.

Wednesday's meeting, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Hall, will give an overview of the sites and allow for feedback on the application process and operating guidelines for interested gardeners.

Staff from the county's UC Cooperative Extension office, which is organizing the effort, along with representatives from the county's water, parks, open space and health agencies will be on hand to take input.

The Board of Supervisors is set to sign off on the garden program in May.

A related effort aims to bolster agriculture by opening up a wider swath of county land to small farmers and ranchers

An inventory of suitable lands, including possibly hundreds of acres of county open space, is now under way.

Supervisors are set to review that program, including lease rates and charitable giving guidelines, in June.

Register for Wednesday's meeting at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/238688.


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