The ongoing pursuit of knowledge to support evolving technologies and strategies for building in the 21st century is a passion of ours. Cultivate partners with clients, non-profits and municipalities to conduct research that leads to innovative planning solutions and policies.

Cultivating Ideas


Featured: The Santa Clara Valley Agricultural Plan

The Santa Clara Valley Agricultural Plan (Valley Ag Plan) is a regional land use and economic development strategy to support the local food and farming economy and further climate change mitigation and resiliency by preventing conversion of farmland to development.

Santa Clara County has a rich agricultural history and was once recognized as the “Valley of Heart’s Delight” famous for its orchards and canneries. In the past 20 years alone, Santa Clara County has lost 45% of its farmland, and much of the 27,000 acres remaining are at continued risk of conversion as a result of intense land development pressure. Despite this, Southern Santa Clara County retains valuable agricultural lands and an important farming industry, with over 1,000 farms and total economic production value of $1.6 billion dollars.


Read / Download the Plan

To protect California’s irreplaceable croplands and rangelands, the State of California launched the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program (SALCP) in 2015. The Santa Clara Valley Agircultural Plan is funded in part by SALCP which provides cap and trade funding to protect agricultural lands in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to meet California’s climate change goals. In partnership with the cities of San Jose, Morgan Hill, and Gilroy, the Authority and the County are mapping agricultural lands in Santa Clara Valley for conservation and identifying the regional greenhouse gas reduction potential.


"Amie MacPhee and Cultivate are helping the Open Space Authority to translate our vision for preserving the viability of working lands and our region's sense of place into achievable planning and policy solutions."

- Andrea Mackenzie, General Manager, Open Space

Project Goals






Map and prioritize agricultural lands for conservation

Identify the regional greenhouse gas reduction potential of agricultural protection

Bring the County, municipalities, and the agricultural sector together to work in concert for agricultural preservation

Blueprint a Regional Agricultural Conservation Easement Program

Revise the County Zoning Ordinance for additional agricultural preservation

What inspires us...


Below is a library of resources and ideas found by us or shared with us by our friends and client network. It’s a collection of articles, radio stories, infographics and videos that relate to our work and broaden our thinking: our favorite content from the internet and beyond. Original commentary gives insight into our process and poses questions about the world inside and outside of the studio.

Thomas Rainer’s work is a revelation: It turns out that plants are social, and have a body language that explains what they need.

This pilot project in the Pajaro Valley where they are paying farmers for groundwater recharge inspires us. Just as households with solar panels get credit for selling power back to the grid, landowners can offset their water bills by pushing water underground. With winter rains filling California’s reservoirs, the rush to capture some of that bounty before it gets to the sea is ON. “You can’t buy any more land and put more infiltration basins in,” Helen Dahlke, a hydrologist at UC Davis says, “the agricultural landscape is really the natural place to do this.”

We continue to be stirred by Seth Godin’s blog which is based on the notion of “Make Something Happen.” His book, What to do when it’s your turn, is a book about helping people “do work that matters.” We particularly like his piece titled “Toward Civilization.” We should never forget to speak up, care a little more and "say, 'wait,' when they cross the line, when they pursue profit at the cost of community, when they throw out the rules in search of a brawl instead” because “…the race to the bottom and the urge to win at all costs aren't new, but they're not part of who we are and ought to be.”




101 The Embarcadero

Suite 212

San Francisco, CA 94105



Cultivate was founded to help change the way people think about improving and managing land. 
We are a California State Certified Small Business (SB) as well as a Certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE).