Preserving the Past, Stewarding the Future
The Brandstad Family has already conserved 175 acres of their family property and now the remaining 158 acres are in the final stages of completion – on its way to a forever-farm thanks to the family’s commitment to their 150-year old farming legacy and a partnership with Central Valley Farmland Trust. This picturesque farm is located in San Joaquin County near the community of Linden. Their journey to conserve these two highly productive farms began in 2011 and now will reach its close in early 2014.
Central Valley Farmland Trust worked with owners Jon and Christine Brandstad and Jon’s brother, both owners of their own portion of the total farm acreage. CVFT also leveraged funding from the Department of Conservation’s California Farmland Conservancy Program, Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Farm and Ranchland Protection Program and local mitigation fees to conserve the remaining portion of the farm. Using the tool of an agricultural conservation easement maintains their private ownership and the rights that come with owning land, but extinguishes the ability to ever divide or convert the land away from agriculture.
This prime farmland produces walnuts and cherries, and also boasts a small olive orchard. The fourth generation farmers, the Brandstad brothers, made this decision collectively with their families and children to commit their lives and their land to farming forever. Jon’s nephew, Jeff, is the new manager of Jon’s portion of the farm maintaining the family’s tradition on the land. Jeff’s oldest son, Richard, works the farm during harvest in the summers, making six generations on the farm.
The farming operation focuses on efficiency and closely manages their trees. “We are very happy to have our nephew Jeff come and manage our portion of the ranch,” said Jon Brandstad. “He knows this land, our trees, and how to take this operation to the next level. As the second half of the farm nears completion of our conservation project we know our history and stewardship will go on.”
The property is also home to the original farm house that Jon’s great-grandfather built; they moved into the house on New Year’s Day 1900. Their grandfather bought the original conserved property for his own during the Depression for $15 per acre. “He struggled to get it and struggled to keep it,” said Jon. “We are passionate about preserving farmland; we have a lot of pride in what we do because of who came before us.”
“It would break our hearts to see this place with so much history and hard work invested in it turned into houses or a development one day,” said Christine. “No matter who owns this place in the future, its history will live in the land and continue to provide for our next generations.”
“These easements are good for everybody,” said Jon. “It protects the environment and teaches future generations to care for the land. We must pass these concepts onto our children so their children will know it too.”
“The Brandstad Farm is a highly productive asset and generates significant economic benefit to the local community and the State. We have been delighted to work with this family and our conservation partners on this project,” said Bill Martin, executive director of CVFT. “The Brandstad family members are passionate stewards of the land and their gift to us all is a legacy of farming and family values whose indelible mark will live on in perpetuity.”