Our trip began in Big Basin State Park, amid the coastal redwood trees protected in this park. Here we learned that the park owes its origin to the efforts of Andrew P. Hill, a photographer and artist and a group of concerned citizen/activists he drew together. The importance of individuals and non-government organizations was a theme that developed throughout the trip.
Much of the nation's fresh fruits and vegetables are grown in California. The Pajaro Valley has some of the richest agricultural and in the country, and is renown for its strawberry crop. We visited farms with exemplary practices. A large-scale grower, working on leased land adjacent to the Elkhorn Slough, has rehabilitated the property through development of buffers, leading to marked improvement in the water quality in the adjacent estuary. Live Earth Farms provided insights into a whole new agricultural paradigm of organic, community supported and serving agriculture.
Strawberry variety "Albion" met with approval!
At Live Earth Farms, the farmer avoids all chemical pesticides, rotates crops, and employs enlightened labor practices. His farm serves a local clientele. This model of community supported, sustainable agriculture is appealing, but challenging at the same time. We could see no difference in productivity, appearance or flavor between the organic and "chemically" grown strawberries. But, coming from Michigan, would we be willing to only eat what our farmers could grow locally?
Strawberries ready for the picking. Though many best management practices are used, this grower still uses methyl bromide periodically to fumigate the soil.
To "pay" for our time with the farmer, we spent a few hours helping out on the farm, washing produce, packing shares, moving seedlings out of the greenhouse and planting flats of vegetables.
While in the Watsonville/Pajero Valley area, we camped at Sunset State Beach, on a bluff overlooking Monterey Bay. Most evenings, the Sunsets lived up to expectations.