BRENTWOOD -- To promote agricultural tourism and bring local farms into the 21st century, Brentwood leaders allocated $21,760 in agricultural grant money this week to print maps of area produce stands and overhaul the Harvest Time website.
Since 2007, the city's Agricultural Enterprise Grant Program has distributed annual grants to local organizations ranging from $10,000 to $30,604 to promote Brentwood's agricultural region. This year, the Brentwood City Council opted to help Harvest Time become self-sufficient by funding a redesign of its website in addition to continued support of its seasonal U-pick map.
"We have been taking steps to be self-supporting to keep making contributions to the community," said Harvest Time secretary Barbara Frantz. "It (website) is a critical part of us becoming self-supporting."
According to Frantz, the nonprofit organization's website explains what a U-pick farm is, how U-pick visitors can stay safe while picking produce and provides valuable information about local farmers. She added that this is important for the crowds that travel from San Jose and San Francisco for the annual spring U-pick season.
The Agricultural Enterprise Grant Program only has two remaining years worth of grant funding available to promote local agriculture. Brentwood Vice Mayor Joel Bryant noted that the redesign of Harvest Time's website would help market the city's restaurants, hotels and stores to U-pick enthusiasts during their day trips to the area.
"Technology is getting to the point where physical maps are less vital to the effect you want," he said.
Harvest Time officials agreed at this week's council meeting, noting that they plan to print 10,000 fewer copies of the maps than last year. Harvest Time estimates that its marketing efforts draw more than 200,000 visitors to Brentwood area farms annually.
"Our website will make it easier to operate our businesses," said Harvest Time Vice President Sean McCauley.
Meanwhile, the city has been working on developing a handheld mobile app to also promote agricultural tourism through the Brentwood Grown branding campaign, which encourages the public to buy Brentwood produce and improves its visibility in grocery stores and markets. The app was supposed to be launched at the start of U-pick season this spring, but it has been delayed.
Councilman and farmer Erick Stonebarger said Harvest Time knows the agricultural grant funds are shrinking and will not be available in the future, so they need to use it wisely. According to Harvest Time, at least 35 percent of its website visitors are using mobile phones.
"We were encouraged to see them run with some of this technology," Stonebarger said of their website plans.
Contact Paula King at 925-779-7174.