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.