Many people who live among the cattle ranches and farms in the Cuyama Valley have banded together in a campaign calling for a boycott of carrots.
The effort targets two large carrot growers, Grimmway Farms and Bolthouse Farms, which sued asking a court to determine groundwater allocations for property owners throughout the valley. The two companies have recently dropped out of the lawsuit, but other corporate entities that lease land to the growers remain in the water adjudication case as plaintiffs.
Residents in the rural community north of Santa Barbara say they plan to continue protesting the companies’ tactics by boycotting carrots. Here’s what several people in the Cuyama Valley have to say about the current fight over water and their community’s future.
Jake Furstenfeld, a cattle rancher and boycott organizer
Jake Furstenfeld has for years served on an advisory committee to the Cuyama Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency, discussing plans to reduce pumping alongside representatives of the carrot companies. In that process, he said, he felt everyone had a voice. But he’s now concerned the carrot growers, which have been overpumping water for years, might end up controlling a large share of the remaining water, to the community’s detriment.
“I’ve never seen our community more united on something,” Furstenfeld said. “I feel we have to get our word out in order for this valley to survive.”
Furstenfeld said he sees the boycott as an effort to defend the community’s water future for the next generation, including his 9-year-old daughter.
“We’ve got to fight,” he said. “We’re not going to quit.”
Steve Gliessman and Roberta Jaffe, owners of a 5-acre vineyard
Steve Gliessman and Roberta Jaffe own Condor’s Hope Vineyard at the foot of the Sierra Madre Mountains, where they dry-farm wine grapes without irrigation, relying on the rains.
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