Ag + Open Space gives major boost to urban parks and agriculture with $7.2 million in Matching Grants

August 23, 2023

Posted in: Press Releases

SANTA ROSA, CA (August 23, 2023) – With an agenda item that ended in applause, hugs, and even a few tears, Sonoma County Ag + Open Space is proud to announce that yesterday our Board of Directors awarded $7.2 million to support urban parks, trail development, and the sustainability of a beloved small farm. Through our Matching Grant Program, we strive to center community in open space by working with local non-profit organizations and public agencies to respond to the open space needs within Sonoma County’s cities, towns, and unincorporated communities. From Sonoma Valley, to Petaluma, through Santa Rosa and north to Geyserville, this round of funded community-based projects reflects a deep commitment to connecting underserved communities with open spaces that meet their recreational, environmental, and climate resiliency needs.

“With this round of Matching Grant funding, our Board and Ag + Open Space staff saw the opportunity to make a deep investment in bolstering open space within some of our most underserved communities,” said Chris Coursey, Chair of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors and President of the Ag + Open Space Board of Directors. “I’m excited to see all of these projects move ahead, including the additional support coming to Tierra de Rosas – a project driven by the Roseland community’s vision and commitment, and long in the making.”

This set of projects gets at the heart of what the Matching Grant Program aims to do – build partnerships within our communities to create and enhance open space so people can get outside and experience the joy, solace, and wellness benefits of nature and agriculture.

  • Bounty Farm – For over 15 years, Petaluma People’s Services’ Bounty Community Farm has grown and sold affordable, locally-grown fruits and vegetables in the center of Petaluma, while prioritizing the creation of opportunities for low-income and vulnerable community members to have fresh and healthy food. Matching Grant funds will help them purchase the land they’ve long farmed and continue their work of bringing fresh, healthy food and sustainable agricultural education to their community.
  • Sonoma Schellville Trail – In the mid-1980’s, Sonoma County Regional Parks began their work to buy a railroad right of way in Schellville to fill a critical gap in the local and regional trail system. Regional Parks will be able to leverage Matching Grant funds to finally purchase the remaining land and build a trail that will connect local and regional trail systems, including the San Francisco Bay Trail that connects 47 cities across 9 counties.
  • Geyserville Community Plaza – With our first Matching Grant project in Geyserville, the Sonoma County Public Infrastructure Department and the Geyserville Municipal Advisory Council will help create the community’s first public park. Centrally located, and alongside the planned Smart Trail tracks and Great Redwood Trail, this park will create a more accessible way for residents to get outside and serve as a gathering space for beloved annual events. The park will also support the town’s climate resilience with designs that will offer flood protection and a shaded areas for residents to cool down during hot weather.
  • Tierra de Rosas – As part of long-term dream of the Roseland community, the Sonoma County Community Development Commission’s Tierra de Rosas project will create an open green space in the heart of a major mixed-use development. In addition to the beloved Mitote Food Park, this park will be a core element of the plan to convert what is mostly parking lots and empty storefronts into a vibrant gathering, celebration, and recreation hub for Roseland residents.
  • Mark West Community Park – In one of Sonoma County’s communities most impacted by wildfires, the Mark West Community Park is a unique opportunity to purchase one acre of land burned in the 2017 Tubbs Fire and turn it into a community park. The park will offer an outdoor gathering place of healing for residents, nature-based recreation opportunities, and include restoration of native habitats. Sonoma Land Trust is leading the acquisition phase of the project, and once secured the Mark West Community Fund will coordinate the planning and long-term stewardship of the park.

While the Matching Grant program is usually open for new applications every two years, after Round 1 of the 2022 cycle there were remaining funds and potential applicants eager to apply. In response, Ag + Open Space opened a Round 2 of funding in late 2022 and received a uniquely strong set of proposed projects. After careful deliberation with our Board and community-led advisory bodies regarding the community and environmental merits of each project, we recommended an increased investment – from $2.9M to the $7.2M approved yesterday – in this highly competitive second round.

“While all of our work is focused on conserving natural and working lands for the benefit of all who call Sonoma County home, this program was created by our community to make sure we clearly prioritize open space projects that are responsive to the needs of our more urban communities,” said Misti Arias, Ag + Open Space General Manager. “With this round of projects, we’ve begun the process of re-visioning the Matching Grant Program to be more responsive to community needs and to ensure we are making the strongest investment possible in Sonoma County’s urban open spaces.”

The Matching Grant Program funds open space acquisitions and improvements on existing open spaces, in return for easements that make certain the natural and recreational resources of these lands will continue to serve our communities with accessible places to get outside. For information about the Matching Grant Program:

Project Applicant Type of Project Approved Funding Request
Bounty Farm Petaluma Peoples Services Acquisition + Improvement $2,040,000
Sonoma Schellville Trail Sonoma County Regional Parks Acquisition + Improvement $1,000,000
Geyserville Community Plaza Sonoma County Public Infrastructure Improvement $1,000,000
Tierra de Rosas


Sonoma County Community Development Commission Improvement $2,000,000
Mark West Community Park Sonoma Land Trust Acquisition $1,169,500
Total $7,209,500


About Sonoma County Ag + Open Space
Sonoma County Ag + Open Space permanently protects the diverse agricultural, natural resource and scenic open space lands of Sonoma County for future generations. The organization is responsible for the perpetual protection of over 123,000 acres of land throughout our region. These agricultural and open space lands are protected through a quarter-cent sales tax initially approved by voters in 1990 and reauthorized in 2006. For more information, please visit