Bolinas farm lease draws scrutiny

08/08/2013

A land lease signed in 2011 between a local organic farm and the Bolinas utility district, which allows Gospel Flat Farm to provide vegetables to West Marin residents year round, led two residents to voice concerns at a public meeting late last month. The lease, which charges the farm $100 a year, purposefully stipulated a nominal fee. “We want to put the land to beneficial use,” Bolinas Community Public Utility District Director Victor Amoroso said. The residents are concerned about a public trail that runs through the leased parcel, which sits near the sewer ponds and the site of the former Sun Festival, between the Big Mesa and downtown. Resident Ken Masterson alleged the farm had cut down oak trees, while Janine Aroyan was mainly interested in the location of fencing and the integration of agricultural and public uses. Farmer Mickey Murch told the Light that the dry-farmed parcel was key for year-round production since his family’s other lands, situated on the edge of Bolinas Lagoon, flood in the winter. The parcel produces lettuces, arugula, garlic and other vegetables for the honor-system farm stand during the wet season. “The idea is to take land that wasn’t being used and turn into something that’s great for future generations,” Mr. Murch said, adding that some eucalyptus trees had been removed, but not oaks. He said he plans to hold a site visit soon to allow people to discuss the placement of fencing and any other concerns.