July 19, 2017

Alternating hot and cool periods the last few weeks are allowing the full spectrum of our wide range of crops to do their thing. We are already pretty heavy into tomato season with all the dry farmed cherry tomatoes, Early Girls and heirlooms coming on. Word has it that further inland it has been so hot with temperatures into triple digits regularly that the blossoms have been falling off leading to a reduced fruit set for the various tomato crops.  Another reason to be thankful for being on the Central Coast. 
 
The pepper crops are promising to be heavy with lots of fruit setting in the above 50 degree nights. Meanwhile, lettuces, chicories, Cole crops, cilantro and other greens are doing great! We are even seeing some ripe plums, apricots and early apples too!
 
I have been thinking a lot about all the new developments effecting smaller local farmers. There is a large and growing presence of home delivery options from retailers, food kit companies and with the recent purchase of Whole Foods by Amazon, the potential for people to shop from their mobile phones without ever seeing what they are buying in person. I have my own opinions about this kind of shopping, but I do think there is value in knowing where it is coming from and seeing what you are buying. Convenience also does have its’ costs.  The more direct and efficiently food travels to the consumers, the more sustainable it is both energy-wise and financially for the growers. 
 
Another added pressure starting to become a reality is marijuana. Recreational and medical marijuana laws are now allowing it’s cultivation to be a much more common practice on the Central Coast. There are starting to be some unintended ramifications for farms growing food, flowers and fiber. The main impacts are putting pressure on land lease prices and impacting the already tight farm labor issues. Smaller farms that lease land in somewhat isolated areas are most at risk for negative impacts from this. There have also been some larger greenhouse operations that previously grew flowers, now converted over to marijuana with some rather ominous impacts on their neighbors, such as having armed guards now patrolling properties and reduced farm road access becoming an issue.
 
All of these things are working their way through the local economy and it is a balancing act for a food grower to navigate these realities. People need to eat but can it be economical for people to farm in this area given the economics? Questions yet to be answered.