- Author: Cris L. Johnson
The Master Gardeners of Ventura County have once again earned awards for their display at the Ventura County Fair. This year's ribbons were won for Best of Division, Best Plant Material and Best Design with additional award plaques for Best Interpretation of Fair Theme and overall outstanding participation.
The winning Master Gardener display uses humor and gardening expertise to educate visitors on ways to use drought tolerant plants, so important in dry southern California. In an area subject to periodic drought conditions this display is particularly timely as county residents cope with low rainfall and dropping water levels. Informational flyers and Master Gardeners are on hand for visitors to learn more about the program and drought tolerant plants and practices.
Master Gardeners are recruiting for this year's trainee class. If you are interested in learning more about this successful program that serves Ventura County, link to their webpages here.
- Author: Cris L. Johnson
In addition to enjoying the permanent exhibits, the museum also offers special temporary exhibits showcasing a variety of agriculture related themes.
Guided grade level specific trips are available for kindergarten through 8th grade and guided general interest museum visits for all grades. Prices vary depending on the type of tour chosen.
For more information about this agricultural learning opportunity contact the the Agriculture Museum's Education Coordinator at email@example.com or by phone at 805-585-3100 X103.
To learn more about this program on the internet visit the Agriculture Museum's website.
To register for a tour fill out this registration form.
- Author: Cris L. Johnson
Dr. Smith earned his B.S. in genetics at UC Davis while performing biochemical research on herbicide tolerance in glyphosate-resistant tomato cells, and subsequently received an M.S. in Biology for his work on Citrus Tristeza Virus at Long Beach State University. At the University of Nebraska, his research encompassed biochemical characterization of regulatory proteins ("kinases/phosphatases") involved in carbon-fixation, and wound-induced systemic signaling and gene expression in plants, culminating in a Ph.D. in biological sciences.
After completing his doctorate, he did postdoctoral research in sequence-structure computational analyses of protein kinases ("molecular switches"), and development of database resources for protein kinase information, at the San Diego Supercomputer Center, University of California San Diego. He spent the next 14 years serving as the executive director for the National Biomedical Computation Resource, and the Center for Theoretical Biological Physics at UCSD. Prior to joining UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR), Dr. Smith served as the associate vice provost for research at Rice University.
Ventura County possesses a moderate climate and prime agricultural land that allows it to be one of the more versatile growing environments in the state. The county is not only the number one producer of strawberries and has significant acreage in citrus, avocado and vegetable crops, but also provides a viable testing ground for specialty crops that can serve profitable niche markets. Through collaboration Dr. Smith envisions a stronger commitment to the success and promotion of county agriculture for now and future generations.
The Spring 2014 issue of "Central Coast Farm & Ranch" magazine has an article that focuses on Chris Smith and his aspirations for UCCE Ventura and the Hansen Agricultural Center. The article is entitled "On the Ground" and is published by the Farm Bureau of Ventura County. If you are interested in subscribing to "Central Coast Farm & Ranch" please contact them at (805) 289-0155 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Smith encourages an active and responsive dialogue with the public and the county's agricultural community. He can be reached at 805-662-6943.
- Author: Cris L. Johnson
The University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) division is celebrating 100 years of service and science to the state of California. In May 2014 UC ANR will mark the 100th anniversary of the Smith-Lever Act, legislation that created Cooperative Extension, a nationwide system of community-based education, established as part of each state's land grant university.
The Ventura County UC Cooperative Extension is our local component of this structure where we serve the community through youth development programs, agricultural outreach and research, home gardening programs, natural resource education and projects, environmental horticultural and landscape expertise. We also work in conjunction with the Hansen Agriculture UC Research and Extension Center (REC) in Santa Paula where agricultural research projects and educational outreach programs are conducted in a dedicated agricultural setting.
Join us at our 100th anniversary celebratory meeting in Oxnard and learn more about the extension and research activities.
- Author: Brad Miller
Ventura County, as many know, is one of the most productive agriculture economies in California. In fact, Ventura County currently ranks seventh in agriculture production in the entire state. However, we have not always enjoyed this high statewide status. Many changes in our agriculture techniques and preferences in crops have boosted us from being the fourteenth largest agriculture economy in 1989 to our present level. Ben Faber, an agricultural psychologist for the University of California Cooperative Extension office described this transformation in a recent interview.
Faber, a former professor of microbiology, fertility, and soil physics among other subjects at the UC Davis, has been an employee at UCCE for 23 years. His extensive research in his field and Ph. D. in Soil Fertility makes him an expert in agriculture.
So how did Ventura County reach the upper echelons of California agriculture? Faber explains that a variety of factors have led growers to break into the Ventura County market and increase production. Many growers have migrated from the San Diego and Orange County markets due to spikes in land prices. Land values in the San Diego and Orange counties have greatly increased since the 1990s, and continue to climb forcing more and more growers to look elsewhere for land. Another problem is water availability. Faber says that San Diego especially suffers from lack of water, much more so than Ventura County.
However, despite our county’s success in recent years, we are still second fiddle to the Central Valley. It is very difficult for Ventura and other counties throughout the state to compete with the Central Valley in regards to land costs, water availability, and water quality. Those three important factors separate the Central Valley from the rest of the state. For this reason, Faber encourages growers to never invest in a crop that is in direct competition with the Central Valley.
There have been several changes in Ventura County’s crop scene since Faber began working here. Twenty years ago, small growers made up a large portion of the market. Now, large commercial growers that sell to supermarkets make up the majority. Large growers that focus on catering to the consumer have dictated changes in which crops are most profitable. Two decades ago Ventura County’s top grossing crops were lima beans, walnuts, and strawberries. With the exception of strawberries, neither of the other formerly profitable crops are successfully produced here; the focus is more on perishable items. Avocados, strawberries, and raspberries are three of the top products in Ventura County’s market today.
Aside from the cash crops, many small growers now concentrate on farming niche crops. Niche crops are commodities that are specially grown for a particular audience and that are not in direct competition with large growers. Yellow beets are an example of a niche crop. The big growers will most likely own the red beet market, but there is still a profitable market for the yellow beet. This style of agriculture can help keep small growers in business. Looking into the crystal ball of Ventura County agriculture, Faber is skeptical. While we have enjoyed success in recent decades, it is hard to say what the future holds in store for us. Land prices will more or less dictate whether we can survive. However Faber does see some positive change. The industry is becoming sleeker with more college educated, young growers entering the industry, which will contrast with older, traditional farming families. This, coupled with the new concept of robotic farming will force change. We cannot say for sure how Ventura County will deal with all of these changes, but Faber advises that we accept and adapt to them as best we can.