Where Agriculture, Ecology, and the Economy Meet
We protect farmland in multiple locations in the Pajaro Valley. The value of farmland isn’t just for the farmers. Everyone who shops at one of our thriving farmers’ markets enjoys an amazing variety of fresh local produce. Anyone who buys local produce at their neighborhood grocery store benefits as well. We need local farmland to grow local produce.
1,476Acres of Farmland Protected
684Acres of Grazing Land Protected
215Acres of Wetlands
Why This Land Is Preserved
We have seen over the years that the choice in the Pajaro Valley is often between crops or condos and pavement. We choose to protect farmland in order to ensure that crops are grown here, preserving the jobs and exports central to the local economy.
The Pajaro Valley has deep floodplain soils from the Pajaro River. This productive soil is constrained to a small area, about 2,500 acres in the Pajaro Valley. Urban expansion has consumed much of the farmland throughout coastal California. If not for land protection, this could happen in the Pajaro Valley as well.
Nearly all of the water in the Pajaro Valley is groundwater. Without careful management, it’s possible to deplete the groundwater by using more than is replenished through rainfall. When water is depleted, seawater can seep into the aquifer and contaminate it. This would be devastating to crops. Hence, protecting land is also protecting water resources.
The majority of farmland we protect in the Pajaro Valley is through conservation easements — a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and the Land thrust that limits land to protect its conservation values and ensure that the land remains farmland in perpetuity. Landowners retain many of their rights, including the right to own and use the land, sell it, and pass it on to their heirs. This ensures that the land remains farmland in perpetuity.
Protecting this farmland is a good example of how we combine multiple goals when choosing which properties in Santa Cruz County to preserve. In the Pajaro Valley, we support sustainable agriculture, steward sensitive habitat, engage in ecosystem health, and promote limited public access.
These properties serve as more than agricultural functions. They are home to several rare and threatened species including California red-legged frogs in the ponds, and almost 220 species of birds including distinctive peregrine falcons, a nesting pair of bald eagles, iconic osprey, and majestic white pelicans.
No human activities allowed: These areas are leased for farming, grazing, and wetland and habitat restoration.
- No human activities allowed
More Information and Updates
Discover the history of this location and check back for news on future projects.
Dedication Room at Pajaro Valley Arts Council Honors Diane Porter Cooley
As a leader in the ag community with deep roots in Watsonville, Diane Porter Cooley was committed to protecting the agricultural legacy of the Pajaro Valley. Decades-long supporters of the Land Trust, Diane and her husband Don were one of the first farming and ranching families to work with us, placing their Circle P Ranch […]Continue Reading
In the Pajaronian: Land Trust conserves 178-acre farmland
Easement protects Tynan Ranch from future development The Land Trust of Santa Cruz County recently announced that it secured a conservation easement for the 178-acre Tynan Ranch, located one-half mile from the current urban growth line of the City of Watsonville off of Lakeview Road.
In the Pajaronian: Connecting people with food and nature
Santa Cruz County Supervisor Zach Friend and Land Trust of Santa Cruz County Executive Director Sarah Newkirk discuss the vision for Watsonville Slough Farm, a place where visitors will be able to harvest fruits and vegetables for their own consumption and for their families, while learning about healthy food and healthy land. Read the article […]Continue Reading
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