WATSONVILLE — Residents who have lived here long enough can mark the history of the city by the types of crops grown along and within its borders.
At the turn of the 20th century, apple was king, and Watsonville was called “The Apple City,” producing more apples in the Pajaro Valley than any other region in the world. Iceberg lettuce became a valuable crop in the 1930s, and as the century progressed the landscape became dominated by the strawberry, which remains the most lucrative crop in the county.
Yet travel down Holohan Road or along Green Valley Road – or any major growing thoroughfare — and you will see signs reading “organic – don’t spray,” a testament to an evolving industry that is moving beyond conventional farming practices and listening to changing consumer demands.
Organic farming is the fastest growing segment of the agricultural industry in the nation, and California leads the states with the most USDA-certified and exempt farms – those with total sales under $5,000.
According to the most recent Santa Cruz County crop report, in 2010 there were more than 90 organic growers in the county with more than 1,600 acres in organic crops. Thirty-percent of the total acres of fruits and vegetables grown in the county were organically cultivated and valued at more than $26 million.
For the complete article see the 05-28-2012 issue.
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