Digital Dirt: Andreotti Farms
Head to Half Moon Bay for a weekend and it would be hard to miss Andreotti Family Farm, just a stone’s throw away from the state beach and coastal trails. A peninsula presence since 1926, the Andreotti’s farm is a favorite among locals and tourists alike, thanks to their picturesque 19th century barn and well-stocked farm stand. Little do they know that Andreotti Family Farm is one of the last vestiges of family-owned farms along the coast, and that the family has been working endlessly to protect their land and legacy against the rising tide of development in the Bay Area.
Walking side by side with Terry Andreotti on a typically misty, but beautiful Half Moon Bay morning, I had the opportunity to hear first-hand the story of their farm. She and her husband Dino, along with their children Frank and Haley, are the second and third generations to work the farm and call it home. Dino’s father (also Dino) immigrated from Italy in 1921, when he was 17 years old. After five years of hard work along the coast, he saved up enough to purchase 80 acres of land, where he started farming beans, broccoli, artichokes, and other vegetables. No stranger to farmers’ markets, the Andreotti’s began selling their produce at the Alemany Farmers’ Market when it first opened in 1943. The market was the first in the state of California, and played an important role in the farmers’ market movement in the area. “We even still use the scale from those days,” laughed Terry.
As fairy-tale like as it all sounded, Terry was quick to share with me the challenges their farm and family have faced over the years. When Dino’s mother passed away several years ago, Terry and Dino were put under great pressure by relatives to sell the farm. In addition to family strife, development was swallowing up the remaining land surrounding the farm. For the last 40 years, farmland and open space has disappeared at an alarming rate, victim to housing and industrial development. This issue is magnified in the Bay Area, where limited space and a housing crisis create an ever-present threat for remaining rural areas. Struggling with options while still running farm, Terry and Dino turned to the help of the Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST), a local nonprofit that protects open space and farms in the Silicon Valley. With its Farmland Futures Initiative, POST purchased and permanently protected 18 acres of the historic farm. The situation is a win-win for the Andreottis and for POST. Terry and Dino will lease the property from POST and continue to farm it, and POST ensures that the land will stay in agricultural production.
As we wrapped up the visit, I took a moment to take a picture of Dino and Terry holding a local news article that covered the POST protection plan and their family farm. “It’s not easy work but we wouldn’t have it any other way,” Terry said, “We hope we have inspired others to come forward and support family farmers, to meet the people who work and take care of the land.”
Andreotti Family Farm sells their topnotch vegetables at the College of San Mateo Farmers’ Market on Saturday, and at the Belmont Farmers’ Market on Sunday. For more on the POST’s protection of farmland and the Andreotti Family Farm legacy, check out the full blog at pcfma.org/digitaldirt! Remember, dirt first!