In 2020, there were 147 organic farms in the county on 8,000 acres, generating $135 million. We need to convince and incentivize even more growers to transition to healthy-soils-based organic farming. Only 15% of county farm owners/renters are Hispanic, but the numbers are growing. If a larger percentage of the 64,000 acres (100 square miles) of agricultural and ranch land in the county sequestered just a few tons of carbon per acre per year, we could vastly accelerate our progress toward zero greenhouse gas emissions.
The USDA has allocated $2.3 billion to “help farmers adopt and maintain conservation systems that protect water and air quality, reduce soil erosion, protect and enhance wildlife habitat and wetlands, conserve water and sequester carbon.” California’s $10 million Healthy Soils Program has similar goals.
Lakeside Organics in the Pajaro Valley is the largest family-owned organic grower/shipper in the country, with 3,000 acres producing 45 varieties of fruits and vegetables. Let’s build on this to make our county a model of farm-to-fork organic, healthy-soils agriculture for the benefit of future generations. Let’s make quality food affordable and available to all families—including the farmworkers who produce it—while addressing climate change by putting carbon back in the soil.
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