Landmark Ranch Rescued From Potential Development
Through Unique Partnership
Marin Agricultural Land Trust together with Tomales Farm & Dairy
and State Coastal Conservancy Move to Preserve Marin County Farmland
December 29, 2006, Point Reyes Station, CA
Marin Agricultural Land Trust, with financial assistance from the California State Coastal Conservancy, has purchased an agricultural conservation easement on a highly visible, 178-acre portion of the Tomales Farm & Dairy property known to many as the Cerini Ranch.
“This easement truly represents a joint investment in Marin County,” said MALT Executive Director Robert Berner. “We’re ensuring long-term protection of existing farmland in West Marin, which is a goal of the Tomales community and the Marin Countywide Plan, and we’re supporting the opportunity for a unique agricultural solution on land that was threatened by development.”
The 178-acre property is situated along the Tomales-Petaluma Road on the southern edge of the village of Tomales. The land is transected by Keyes Creek, which drains to Tomales Bay via Walker Creek and provides a wide expanse of open space adjacent to Tomales High School. The Cerini family purchased the land in 1925, and in 2005 Mrs. Gail Cerini sold it (as well as adjacent lands totaling about 500 acres) to Tomales Farm & Dairy, LLC whose principal owners are John Williams and Long Meadow Ranch, which is owned by Ted, Laddie, and Christopher Hall. The Hall family and Williams hope to re-introduce dairy operations, including an artisan cheesemaking facility, on an adjacent site.
Due to the existence of numerous legally developable parcels on the farm, the potential for rural estate development was high. Tomales Farm & Dairy worked closely with MALT, local representatives, the Marin County Planning Department, and the Coastal Conservancy, donating roughly 70 percent of the appraised value of the easement and forfeiting existing development rights for as many as ten building sites. Under the terms of the conservation easement, development is now limited to one single-family residence to be occupied by the owner or ranch manager. The easement required the development of a Creek Conservation Management Plan to protect and enhance water quality in Keyes Creek. This plan has already been implemented, including the installation of more than 9,000 feet of new fencing. MALT paid $1,000,000 for the easement. Of this amount, the Coastal Conservancy provided $500,000, and MALT members and supporters contributed the remainder.
“In establishing a conservation easement on this beautiful property, we’re pleased to have been able to take the first of many steps towards returning this land to productive agricultural pursuits, retaining open space around the community of Tomales, and creating a viable foundation for a productive and unique dairy operation,” remarked Williams. “However, we still have many more hurdles to overcome if this vision is to become a reality.”
Doug Bosco, chairman of the Coastal Conservancy, said, “This conservation easement protects the natural environment and helps conserve the agricultural heritage of the Tomales community. It’s good for the economy, it’s good for wildlife, and it’s good for everyone who appreciates the character of West Marin.”
* * *
Marin Agricultural Land Trust is a member-supported nonprofit organization founded in 1980 to preserve Marin County farmlands. Its agricultural conservation easement program has preserved more than 38,000 acres on 58 family farms and ranches, permanently protecting them from subdivision and non-agricultural development. Some of the nation’s most highly acclaimed dairy products and organic crops are produced on family farms and ranches protected by MALT conservation easements. More information about Marin’s family farms and the food they produce is available at www.malt.org
The Coastal Conservancy is a state agency that works with the people of California to protect and improve the coast and San Francisco Bay. The conservancy has helped open more than 100 miles of coast and bay shores to the public and preserve more than 300,000 acres of wetlands, wildlife habitat, parks, and farmland. It has a history of interest and involvement in protecting, restoring, and enhancing the agricultural and natural resource values of West Marin.
Tomales Farm & Dairy is an agricultural collaboration between John Williams and Long Meadow Ranch. Visit www.tomalesfarm.com to view the property and read about plans for its long-term development as a sustainable, organic dairy farm and creamery for the production of artisan cheeses.
John Williams is an owner of Frog's Leap Winery which is firmly committed to leading by example. Solar powered and organically farmed, the Rutherford-based family operation produces handcrafted wines that are deeply reflective of the soils from which they emanate.
Long Meadow Ranch, family-owned by Ted, Laddie and Christopher Hall, is an innovative, organic farming operation and purveyor of fine food located high above the Napa Valley in the Mayacamas Mountains where it produces elegant and balanced wines, extra virgin olive oil, grass-fed beef, eggs, and heirloom fruits and vegetables.
* * *
Marin Agricultural Land Trust
Elisabeth Ptak, eptak @malt.org
415-663-1158, ext. 302
Tomales Farm & Dairy
Tori Wilder, firstname.lastname@example.org