Stewardship in Agriculture

The Resource Conservation District offers growers, ranch managers, farm workers, and landowners financial and technical assistance to manage and protect valuable soil and water resources, often helping to increase the efficiency of a production operation at the same time. We work closely with the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service and many other partners to offer no-cost, confidential assistance in both English and Spanish, to help landowners and growers identify their goals and get solutions on the ground.

Agriculture is a fundamental part of the history, culture and economy of Santa Cruz County. The County supports an agriculture industry worth over $600 million, the majority of which is in the Pajaro Valley, located in southern Santa Cruz County and including parts of Monterey and San Benito Counties.

The Pajaro Valley’s cool coastal climate and long growing season allow for multiple crop cycles that are highly productive. The vibrant crops produced here like strawberries, caneberries, vegetables, nursery crops, apples, grapes and other tree and vine fruits, make the per acre value of production in the Pajaro Valley one of the highest in California.

Santa Cruz County is entirely dependent on local sources for our water, and groundwater is the primary source of irrigation water for crops. County groundwater basins suffer from persistent groundwater overdraft conditions with seawater intrusion occurring along much of the coast. Some areas are also impacted by high nitrate concentrations in the groundwater.

Much of Santa Cruz County’s surface waters and riparian corridors, that provide important habitat for a wide range of protected species, are impacted by nutrients, sediment, and other substances that can negatively impact the ecosystem.

At the foundation of the vibrant agriculture industry is the area’s rich and precious soil. Conserving and maintaining healthy, productive soil supports not only the longevity and quality of our food production but can also build resiliency to climate change.

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