Alameda County encompasses 738 square miles with more than 200,000 acres designated for agricultural purposes, most of which is on land located in the Tri-Valley region of Eastern Alameda County. The Tri-Valley refers to the Amador, Livermore and San Ramon Valleys along the I-580 and I-680 highway corridors and includes the cities of Dublin, Livermore and Pleasanton and unincorporated county areas. Although often considered an urban county, Alameda County which was established in 1853, has a rich agricultural heritage. One of the earliest wine growing regions in California was established when Robert Livermore planted wine grapes in 1840 in what is now known as the Livermore Valley wine region. The earliest wineries in California were established in 1883 by the Concannon and Wente families. Today more than 5,000 acres are planted in wine grapes with more than 50 wineries located in the region.
While wine grapes are the main crop grown in Alameda County, fruit and nut crops that include olives, pistachios, walnuts and persimmons are also grown in East County.
The region is also home to cattle ranches owned and operated for generations by local families. First established in 1918 by local landowners to help the Red Cross raise funds during World War I, Livermore hosts the “world’s fastest rodeo” now held annually in June. The Livermore Rodeo and Rowell Ranch Rodeo, located along the I-580 corridor between Castro Valley and the Tri-Valley communities, continue to feature annual activities that reflect the western heritage of cattle ranches in Alameda County.
Livermore High School offers the last remaining agricultural science education program for high school students in the Alameda County public school system. Its curriculum includes classroom and laboratory instruction, supervised agricultural experience programs, and Future Farmers of America (FFA) student organization activities and opportunities. In 2014 Livermore High School hosted its first annual Agricultural Day program targeting third grade students. Through demonstrations with tools, equipment and livestock by local farmers, ranchers and Livermore High students in the agricultural program, Agricultural Day is an interactive experience with the goal of instilling an interest in and appreciation of the process, products and heritage of the agricultural economy.
Since 1912, the Alameda County Fair was established to feature the agricultural economy of the county. While no longer the main focus of the fair, agriculture remains the “heart” of this annual summertime event. Farm equipment and tools continue to be on display and small animals such as rabbits and chickens raised by students and adults are exhibited. The junior livestock exhibit is the highlight of the fair where students that participate in FFA and 4-H programs from throughout the county, exhibit hogs, cattle, sheep and goats that they have raised and cared for in the months leading up to the fair. The students “show” their animals and compete in the various livestock categories. This culminates with the junior livestock auction on the last day of the fair when the animals are auctioned off to the highest bidder. The proceeds of the auction help the students cover their costs and allow them to purchase animals to raise and enter into the junior livestock exhibit and competition at the fair the following year.
To protect and enhance the remaining vestiges of its rich agricultural heritage, Alameda County’s General Plan documents include provisions for planning and implementation of agricultural development in the region. This was affirmed by voters in 2000 when Measure D was approved which established an urban growth boundary (UGB), beyond which intense development was prohibited and which set forth guidelines for further development of agricultural and open space activities outside of the UGB.
This page includes links to resources and references related to agriculture in Alameda County.
Alameda County Agencies