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Pajaro Valley Farmland

Where Agriculture, Ecology, and the Economy Meet

Fast Facts

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.

  • 1,476

    Acres of Farmland Protected
  • 684

    Acres of Grazing Land Protected
  • 215

    Acres of Wetlands
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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 25,000 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.

Available Activities

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.


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