Urban farming development sprouts in Santa Clara
The gardens at Agrihood, an urban residential farming development in Santa Clara. Photo by Annalise Freimarck.

    A first-of-its kind affordable housing development where residents can grow their own food is slated to begin welcoming tenants at the end of the month, sparking excitement among Santa Clara County community leaders.

    The development, Agrihood, offers 160 mixed-income apartments, 165 homes for low-income seniors and veterans and 36 townhomes on 5.8 acres. The property will also include a 1.5-acre agricultural lot where residents can grow their own produce onsite.

    Carl Kalauokalani, cofounder of the gardening nonprofit Silicon Valley Seeds, said he is excited to see a housing development focused on sustainability.

    “It’s very encouraging to see that kind of opportunity take root within an urban environment,” he told San José Spotlight.

    Agrihood is located at 90 N. Winchester Blvd. in Santa Clara across from Westfield Valley Fair at the former site of a UC Master Gardeners facility. Although other urban farm communities exist, such as Patterson Ranch in Fremont, Agrihood’s will have the highest density. The project was developed by San Jose-based The Core Companies in collaboration with Farmscapes, an agricultural landscaping business in Oakland.

    While the senior residences are complete and will soon be ready for new tenants, the mixed-income apartments—which include residences offered at market-rate prices—have not yet been built. The townhouses are still under construction.

    The affordable homes and apartments will have rents for residents making between 30% and 60% of the area’s median income, which is $181,300, according to 2023 county data.

    Santa Clara Councilmember Anthony Becker, who represents the district where the development is located, has watched the project from its conception. He’s excited about the availability of affordable housing exclusively for seniors, because he has known seniors who had to decide between paying rent and eating three meals a day.

    “This project is kind of like a beacon of hope for people like that,” Becker told San José Spotlight. “It’s also a beacon of hope for people like me who are low income, and people who are working class. These are projects that need to move forward.”

    Santa Clara’s homeless population increased to 375 people in 2022, according to the county’s most recent homelessness data. Approximately 40% of Santa Clara County homeless residents are 51 or older, according to county reports from 2019.

    Agrihood’s construction was funded by $23.5 million in Measure A funding, an affordable housing bond passed by Santa Clara County voters in 2016. An additional $15.7 million is from Santa Clara and a grant of $50 million in tax-exempt bonds comes from the California Debt Limit Allocation Committee, which sets the state’s debt ceiling and oversees the state’s tax-exempt bond program.

    The Santa Clara City Council approved the development in 2019 and the project broke ground in 2021.

    Richard Truempler, senior vice president of The Core Companies, said it took years of planning for the project to reach this moment.

    “It is always an incredible feeling to see an affordable housing project completed,” he told San José Spotlight.

    The on-site farm will include a community room, a produce stand where residents can buy fresh food and a learning shed where residents will be taught how to grow food on the farm.

    Kalauokalani said he hopes this project spurs other similar developments and that it helps bring Silicon Valley back to its agricultural roots.

    “We have a really rich agricultural history, right here in the valley,” Kalauokalani said. “And I think people have become disconnected (from it).”

    Contact Annalise Freimarck at [email protected] or follow @annalise_ellen on Twitter.

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