Agriculture is Blooming with
An economic powerhouse, Santa Barbara County agricultural commodities grossed $1,479,092,562 in 2015. This is due in part to Santa Barbara County’s variety of micro-climates that are ideal for growing many different types of produce.
The mild coastal climate provides unique growing conditions and as a result, our farmers have been able to cultivate a wide variety of crops to meet local, national, and global demand for decades. Agriculture is the number one contributor to the county’s economy and through the multiplier effect, contributes a total of $2.8 billion to the local economy and provides 25,370 jobs according to the 2015 Santa Barbara County Agricultural Production Report.
Carpinteria is home to the California Avocado Festival which celebrates the ever-popular avocado. Avocados in Santa Barbara County generate $47 million, placing it as the 9th most valuable commodity in the county. While the avocado is one of Carpinteria’s specialties, strawberries continue to be the area’s number one commodity with an overall gross value of $438 million, accounting for approximately 30% of the total production of all commodities in Santa Barbara County. Other top 10 producers according to the Santa Barbara County Agricultural Production Report are:
- Broccoli $163 million
- Wine Grapes $106 million
- Cut Flowers $105 million
- Nursery Products $85,000 million
- Head Lettuce $79,000 million
- Cauliflower $66 million
- Raspberries $60 million
- Celery $43 million
The Carpinteria Valley has also been referred to as “the nation’s flower basket.” The region’s flower farms represent the largest producing region of cut flowers in the country, producing millions of dollars in flower sales per year. During the last decade, the value of the Santa Barbara County flower crop has jumped by 22%, totaling more than $106 million in 2013. An estimated half of this production originated here in the Carpinteria Valley.
June VanWingerden, President of the Santa Barbara County Flower & Nursery Association and her husband Rene’ are the owners of Ocean Breeze Floral Farm which grows a variety of fresh flowers. June VanWingerden sees the ever-changing landscape of floral imports and demand keeping flower farmers on the cutting edge.
“Buyers are changing all the time and farmers are always trying something new,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s something we’ve grown for decades, or something new, people can always rely on the quality that this area is known for.”
For the past two decades, local farmers have also been producing a variety of exotic fruits – such as cherimoyas, white sapotes, passion fruit, and other subtropical treats – which are now shipped to upscale markets around the country and around the world. Not only is there a variety of crops in the region, there is a variety of crops on each farm. Farmers who used to produce one crop now grow three or more, and high technology methods are cutting production costs, increasing yields, and developing more beautiful plants.
Beyond Carpinteria’s beautiful beaches and breathtaking mountain views the agricultural community is quietly at work growing the area’s vibrant economy. While Carpinteria is home to some of the biggest names in tech – including Dako, LinkedIn, Nusil Technology, and Procore – agriculture remains the largest employer in our community, and drives our economy.
Whether meeting the rising consumer demand for organic produce or the insatiable appetite for fresh cut flowers, the farmers in Carpinteria are up to the task and continue to create jobs and pour their dollars into the local economy. Blessed with a temperate climate, fertile ground, and hard working people, Carpinteria’s greenhouses and produce from the nearby fields appear in wholesale and retail outlets all over the world.