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Behind the Scenes


Rural Development
Produced by Jennifer Fischer

For more than 30 years, farming has been the livelihood for Greg Hardesty and his family. From dairy to hay, he's proud of working this land. It hasn't been an easy journey. Greg lost his arm and half of his leg in a farm accident 9 years ago. Even with injury, and the long hours, and the ups and downs of farming the land, Greg says nothing will stop him from doing what he loves.But issues out of this farmer's grasp could alter his future here in his hometown of Elk Grove -- changes due in part to the rapid transformation from a predominantly rural area, to an urban community.

The changing face of Elk Grove concerns Hardesty. It's growing at a rate he'd like to see slow down. Elk Grove was established in 1850 as a hotel and stage stop. Today its population has boomed to more than 72,000 residents. With growth comes the need for more housing and expansion -- but at what cost to farmland? With foreign competition beginning to take hold, a growing number of farmers are taking early retirement and selling their land to developers.

Rob Stutzman is with the new Lent Ranch Market place project. He says this new fashion mall in Elk Grove will hopefully break ground in the next few years. Stutzman says cities like Elk Grove rely on new development to keep the town alive. The mall will sit where the former Lent Farm used to be off Highway 99 and Grant line Road -- which is about a mile about a mile and a half from Greg Hardesty's property.

So how is it possible to strike a balance with the need for housing and development in the Valley -- but also save rich farmland? Greg Kirkpatrick from the non-profit group American Farmland Trust, says although they understand the need for housing, their mission is to stop the loss of productive farmland to urban sprawl. AFT is also working to insure farmland remains economically viable for future generations. Kirkpatrick says growth management laws and new programs such as PACE -- Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easement -- are ways to preserve valuable farmland.


Greg Hardesty
Elk Grove Hay Farmer

Rob Stutzman
Consultant, Lent Ranch Marketplace

Greg Kirkpatrick
Representative, American Farmland Trust


The complete text of New Valley Episode 102 -- Through the Roof...


Presentation also made possible by a grant from
the Great Valley Center


New Valley Official Site