Still “The Good Land”

Many Suburbs Later, Goleta Is Still Rich With Locally Grown Produce

Goleta farmland at Fairview Gardens.
Margaret Connell

Goleta began as farming community, with cattle first, then walnuts, lemon, and avocado orchards and a diversity of row crops. Over the last forty years, much of its prime agricultural land has been covered with houses, but there are still many parcels of farmland throughout the Goleta Valley, producing an abundance of fruit and vegetables. So Goleta can still claim the title of “The Good Land.”

Lane Farms
Margaret Connell

If you want to eat locally grown produce, you have many choices. Lane Farms Green Stand at 308 Walnut Lane, which proudly proclaims its heritage back to 1868, is one of the best places to find fresh corn and tomatoes in season. A few blocks away is the San Marcos Growers Organic Produce Stand, at 4950 Hollister Avenue. Behind it you can see the crops they’ll sell growing in the fields.

Fairview Gardens' produce stand
Margaret Connell

At Fairview Gardens Center for Urban Agriculture at 598 N. Fairview, you can take a self-guided tour of the farm and see the diversity of organic fruits and vegetables growing on its twelve and a half acres. You can also sign up for a weekly share of its mid-March to mid-November produce, a program which helps support the farm. They describe their many education programs as seeking to “interpret the connections between food, land and community well being.”

Goleta Valley Organic Farms sells at the Farmers Market.
Margaret Connell

Finally, there are two Farmers Markets each week: on Thursday afternoons at the Calle Real Shopping Center and on Sunday mornings at the Camino Real Market Place. Here you will find growers who only sell at the markets, such as Goleta Organic Farms up Glen Annie Canyon. This is also a chance to buy produce from other areas of Santa Barbara County, such as apples and olive oil from Santa Ynez.

There are many advantages to buying locally:

You get really fresh produce which is harvested at its prime

You can find more delicate varieties such as heirloom tomatoes that do not travel well

Much local produce is organically grown and is healthier

You reduce the amount of long distance trucking of crops from outside the area and hence the pollution from diesel truck fumes

And it helps make our community more sustainable economically and ecologically

San Marcos Growers
Margaret Connell

Besides the many families who shop at these markets, UCSB Dining Commons has a program to introduce as much locally grown produce as possible into their menus. They order from Farmer Direct Produce Network, which gives them a list of what is available, 95 percent of which comes from Santa Barbara County. UCSB’s goal is to keep increasing the homegrown share that it uses. In one dining commons, they now have a salad bar stocked with only locally grown items. Farmer Direct Produce Network also works with Santa Barbara City College, Cate School, and Peabody School in Santa Barbara.

A number of Goleta restaurants have their own connections with organic growers and The Bacara resort grows its own on land it owns up Tecolote Canyon.

In the urban Goleta Valley, there are around 1,000 acres either zoned for agriculture or currently commercially farmed. In addition, there are a number of farms tucked away up in the canyons producing a diversity of fruits and vegetables. These are a precious resource that it is important to preserve. We’re not talking agri-business here – these are small-time growers, and having guaranteed markets like those at UCSB and the Farmers Markets help keep them economically viable.

Organic produce from Fairview Gardens
Margaret Connell

To keep these lands in agriculture will take vigilance. A number have already been identified as possible housing sites. Maintaining the remaining agricultural properties in productive agriculture will be an increasingly difficult task given the need for housing in our community and the pressures to rezone urban and adjacent agricultural lands.

So let’s celebrate our farmers and their efforts to provide healthy and delicious locally grown food, by frequenting the many Farmers Markets in our area and purchasing their produce.

HOUSING ELEMENT WORKSHOP: And speaking of the need for housing plans and policies that balance our need for preserving viable agriculture, this Friday, October 5, there will be an important workshop at the City of Goleta on “Achieving Certification of the Housing Element.” It runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at City Hall, 130 Cremona Drive.

After a brief introduction, there will be a bus tour of six potential housing sites in the city. This will be followed by a panel discussion by housing experts, a buffet lunch, and then discussion stations for community input.

Housing is the only General Plan element that has to be certified by an outside body, in this case the state’s Housing and Community Development Department . Its director Lynn Jacobs will be present at this workshop. The department is asking that the city show that the conservation, view, noise, and land use policies do not act as constraints that limit the number of units that can be built on the designated housing sites in the General Plan. Some are concerned that, to achieve certification, changes may be made in these policies that will reduce environmental protections throughout the city.

I will write more on the outcome of this workshop next week. In the meantime, I hope you can be there this Friday.


What: “Achieving Certification of the Housing Element”

When: Friday, October 5, 9am-3pm

Where: Goleta City Council Chambers, 130 Cremona Drive, Goleta.

What: LAFCo hearing on “Committee for One” Sphere of Influence proposal

When: Thursday, October 11, 2pm

Where: Board of Supervisors Meeting Room, 105 E. Anapamu St., Santa Barbara.

What: General Plan Workshop

When: Wednesday, October 17, 6-8:30pm

Where: Goleta City Council Chambers, 130 Cremona Drive, Goleta.

What: Creek Week

When: October 6 14

Where: Many locations

For details, see


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