(Photo courtesy of the BC Engineering Group)

More farms dotted the Sonoma County landscape in 2017 than any other Bay Area county.

Farms in Sonoma County numbered 3,594 compared with 1,866 in Napa County, which had the second highest number, according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Regionwide, the USDA’s census counted 8,698 farms in 2017, down about 1.7 percent from 8,844 in 2012.

Here’s how the counties rank by number of farms. 1. Sonoma County — 3,5942. Napa County — 1,8663. Santa Clara County — 8904. Solano County — 8495. Contra Costa County — 4596. Alameda County — 4467. Marin County — 3438. San Mateo County — 2419. San Francisco — 10Farms provide a host of benefits, said Amanda Brown-Stevens, executive director of the Greenbelt Alliance, which advocates for open space and smart growth in the Bay Area.

Farms provide jobs and opportunities that keep the economy diverse, they can reduce our carbon footprint and they can provide fire breaks, she said. People also can understand where food comes from and get food close to where they live.

“Preserving farmland is key for all those benefits,” Brown-Steven said.

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Greenbelt Alliance

Keith Burbank is currently a fulltime reporter covering Alameda County and Oakland news for Pagransen. He has also worked on the Data Points project for Pagransen, finding trends and stories about the region through data. In 2019, he was a California Fellow at the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, producing a series about homeless deaths in Santa Clara County. He worked as a swing shift editor for the newswire for several years as well. Outside of journalism, Keith enjoys computer programming, math, economics and music.