Farming is the largest job creation industry in our nation
Did you know that US agriculture supports 24 million jobs? Or that US farmers contribute an estimated $34 billion to the trade surplus? How does that break down to our local Ventura County farmers? According to the Farm Bureau of Ventura County, the estimated gross value of Ventura County crops is $1.8 billion. Farming and farm-dependent businesses provide an estimated 31,000 jobs in Ventura County, more than any other sector of the economy. Agriculture and agriculture-related businesses account for about 4.4% of overall economic activity in Ventura County, generating $2.1 billion in revenue and $76 million in indirect business taxes annually. One in ten county residents relies to some degree on income derived from farming.
Farmers feed the world
Today, each US farmer feeds an average of 155 people compared to the 1940s when a farmer only fed and average of 19 people! It really is quite amazing but, to feed the world, our farmers will need to produce more food over the next 50 years than was produced in the previous 10,000 years combined! Ventura County currently has 2,437 farms, less than in 1998 when there were 2,760 farms in the county. And here’s some alarming news: even though voters have approved laws intended to protect farmland and open space from development, the county continues to lose about 600 acres of farmland to development each year.
We can all help support our local farmers
So what can we do to help our local farmers? Well, by eating local, shopping at our local farmers’ markets, subscribing to CSA (community supported agriculture) baskets, visiting farm stands and U-picks (pick your own); by choosing to eat at restaurants that source locally; by asking at the market for locally-grown and locally-produced products. That’s how. By doing so, we’ll create more dollars that will circulate back to local-area farmers and create more demand for local food items and diversity in our crops – all of which will help our local farmers, our economy, the environment and ourselves.
Want to eat local? Here’s what we recommend
Here are some of our recommendations of how you can help our local Ventura County farming community:
Shop at a Ventura County Farmers’ Market near you
Buy your veggies and other staples at your local Farmers’ Market. Totally Local VC has compiled an extensive list of Ventura County farmers’ markets. It’s a great place to get you started. You’ll find the list here. And you can download it, too! Have fun at the markets!
Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) organization
Use a CSA for an organic delivery service to supplement what you grow in your own garden. We’ve assembled a list of the Ventura County CSAs which includes all relevant contact information and links. You’ll find the list here. And you can download your own copy of the list, too! So, check out our local CSAs.
Patronize restaurants that source from local farmers
Another great way to make the shift to living local is to ensure that local items are used where you eat out. Ask your local restaurants, “How Local are you?” More and more or our local restaurants work with our local farmers, ranchers and purveyors to offer in-season local items on their menus.
Note: Source information obtained from the US Dept of Labor, Bloomberg Report and Farm Bureau of Ventura County, among others.