Agriculture in Ventura County provides the cultural heartbeat of this fertile area. The Ojai Valley, in particular, has many unique microclimates, so farmers can grow a wide variety of fruits and vegetables year-round. Integral to the rich history and culture of the area is the Latino community; and the idea that the land is sacred and worthy of protecting is part of the legacy of the area’s indigenous people, the Chumash Indians. Local farmers, the vanguard of the “sustainable movement,” have become tireless activists in their efforts to preserve that legacy so that the land and the rest of us will thrive.
People, Places, Things
- The Pixie Tangerine—This petite, Mandarin hybrid is totally seedless, intensely flavored and oh-so-easy to peel. Today more than 25,000 Ojai Pixie trees grace the Ojai Valley thanks to two-dozen farming families.
- Marty Fujita, PhD—Marty is the founder and president of Food for Thought. FFT, in partnership with the Ojai Unified School District, has developed several programs including Up and Down the Waste Stream, which teaches students the five R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle, rot, and rethink.
- The Ojai Vineyard—Considered one of the top visionary winemakers in the country, Adam Tolmach produces handcrafted wines that include Rhone varietals, Chardonnay, Riesling, and a knock-your-socks-off Pinot Noir.
- Aromatherapy—Throw away all those scented candles and head to the fields of Oxnard in peak strawberry season to smell the real thing. From April to June, up to 10 million pints are picked, packed, and shipped daily.
- Food Share—In 1978, Jewel Pedi and six friends began offering food to the homeless under a bridge near the riverbed in Ventura. Today, Food Share and its partners provide meals for more than 40,000 hungry people each month.