Friday, October 21, 2016

Santa Cruz and Agriculture

Today was exasperating.  We had the thought to drive up to Santa Cruz so see what we would see.  What we saw was too many people and too many cars.  After having lunch, we decided we couldn’t stand it and left without seeing much of anything.  The state park we were interested in was 20 miles up a traffic-ridden stretch of highway.  No beach would have been good enough to justify that drive.  Here are my paltry pictures from the day.

There are many surfers in Santa Cruz.  One wonders why since there are no waves.  That group of three out there were just bobbing around.


The houses that face the water are lovely.  We were quite taken with this one.


This is also nice, it’s cheerful with the yellow awnings.


The Santa Cruz boardwalk.  Notice there are no waves breaking for the surfers.  We contemplated walking down there, but the crowds were already starting to make us itch.  We went for pizza, instead.


We saw this guy riding down the sidewalk when we were on our way out of town.  He was making better progress than the cars.


These are strawberry fields.  California produces 80% of the strawberries sold in the US.  Their fields are amazingly productive.  They yield ten times more strawberries, per acre, than strawberry farms in Michigan; twenty times more than farms in the state of New York. And there's a complex web of reasons why.  That strawberry you just bought at the supermarket traces its ancestry to a microscopic particle of plant tissue that somebody cut from the tip of a growing strawberry stem five years ago.  That tiny bit of strawberry stem went into a little glass petri dish and grew into a new plant. Then it sent out dozens of little daughter plants called "runners."  All those plants are clones of the original stem. 


The black shiny stuff is plastic.  I thought it was to keep the ground warm and the berries clean.  It’s actually used to lock chemicals into the soil. Every year, a month before planting time, fumigation machines move slowly across California's strawberry fields. They inject chemicals into the soil and seal the fumes into the soil with sheets of plastic.  The chemicals kill practically everything in the soil: Insects, weeds, and fungi.  One of the most commonly used chemicals is known to destroy ozone. 


This is prime strawberry country.  They like the mild moist climate and cool nights.  So do people, which makes this land very expensive.  As people encroach on the berry farms, stiffer regulations on what can be pumped into the soil come into play.  As of now, there aren’t any good alternatives to fumigation.  I’ve cut and pasted from this article, it’s worth reading.  You may be wondering, what happens to all of that plastic?  It used to be burned, now much of it goes to landfills.  It’s difficult to recycle agricultural plastic.  You can read more on how much plastic is used in agriculture in this article.


Later, after doing laundry, we went for a nice walk in Moss Landing.  It’s a working marina.  They have resident sea lions.


That brown blob lower right is an otter.


There was fog, it was very atmospheric.  Note that absence of people.  Actually there were two people, but I cropped them out.  Begone, people!


This pelican was diving for dinner.  We watched him drop into the water three times, he got a fish twice.  It was a peaceful end to the day.



  1. More reasons not to eat the tasteless strawberries offered at the local grocery chain!

  2. Yeah, strawberries are always in the "dirty dozen" produce items published yearly by the Environmental Working Group. This year they are #1 again. I have barely touched them for years for that reason, except for the occasional organic one. So sad. I love that first house too!