BRENTWOOD -- Brentwood nonprofit organizations and farmers may soon have access to a 7.2-acre, city-owned property for the development of community gardens and agricultural demonstration projects.

The city's Agricultural Enterprise Committee recently discussed sending out a request for proposals from local agricultural and educational groups and farmers for future use of the available Nail property, which is along Sellers Avenue in the county agricultural core area near the East Contra Costa Historical Society Museum. The committee considered giving priority to proposals from nonprofit agricultural groups, followed by nonprofit educational groups and for-profit agricultural groups, according to Brentwood Community Development Director Casey McCann.

"In the case of the nonprofits, the idea would include maybe a low-cost lease like a community garden or demonstration project. It could range to having a farmer come forward to farm the property for the next five years at fair market value," he said.

The Brentwood City Council will further evaluate the options at its Dec. 11 meeting. After the request for proposals, McCann said that the next step could be an informational meeting to discuss concepts and the ground rules for potential use.

"We believed it was prudent to go with an RFP (request for proposal) to ensure all interested groups had an opportunity to participate," said Councilman Erick Stonebarger. "We would like to see the highest and best use with ag education without disturbing the Historical Society and gave ourselves the ability to rank based off preferred parameters such as education."

According to McCann, the city purchased the property in 2007 with agricultural conservation funds from developer fees for $1.1 million with the intent to house a community garden, interpretive and teaching areas and a unique city park dedicated to agricultural heritage and uses.

Since then, McCann said that the only group to express interest in utilizing the site were the Delta Informal Gardeners, which couldn't raise enough money for a community garden there a few years ago, and the Green Living Coalition, which expressed interest in developing a community garden, historical walk, event center and park area there in phases over the entire property.

"We are working on our own proposal, but they are opening it up to other people to be fair. We feel ours is the best use of the property," said Green Living Coalition co-founder Jim Root, who added that they have secured some corporate sponsorship interest.

Councilman Joel Bryant said that it will be nice to see the dormant property utilized and he envisions a nonprofit collaborating with the local schools or those involved with 4H or Future Farmers of America.

"There is certainly enough room for many people to be involved," he said. "When a kid sees the cycle of food production, it gives them a greater perspective of why we eat our vegetables."

Paula King can be reached at 925-779-7174 or pking@bayareanewsgroup.com.