April, 2009

In 1910, Carrie E. Bridge purchased about 30 acres on the west end of Homestead Valley. About 14 acres became the Castle Park subdivision. Most of the rest of the land remained undeveloped for over 60 years. A 12-acre portion is now Amaranth, a community of 12 homes with several acres of commonly owned open space.

In 1971, twelve families formed a housing cooperative with a vision of living lightly on the land, reducing consumption of resources, and creating an interdependent community. The land would be owned in common, each family would live in a separate house, and a central lodge would provide such functions as laundry, cooking and dining. There would be a workshop with jointly owned tools, a central garage with community-owned cars, a co-op nursery school and a community garden. Work parties would preserve food from the garden as well as food bought in bulk. Community meals would be prepared by different families taking turns. Gray water would be used for the garden and the toilets. Parking would be along the main road and in the central garage. Foot paths would lead to the houses. In 1972, the cooperative purchased 12 acres between Homestead Blvd. and Ridgewood Ave. and chose the name Amaranth, an imaginary undying flower (amaranth is also a grain). The adjacent Homestead Blvd. was renamed Amaranth Blvd. But things didn’t work out exactly as envisioned. Costs escalated. The lodge became unaffordable. MMWD had problems with the gray water system. Banks would not finance a Cooperative. Amaranth Cooperative became Amaranth, Inc.

Project plans for 12 conventional homes were presented to the County Planning Commission in 1973. The first family moved in on New Year’s Eve 1975. Several housing cooperative concepts survived. Although there is no central lodge, home owners share maintenance responsibility for the jointly owned portion of the 12-acre parcel. None of the homes has a garage. There are two parking lots on Amaranth Blvd. Footpaths lead to Homestead’s Open Space and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Views are spectacular as is evident from the above photo. Amaranth, the imaginary undying flower, lives on.

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