the quest for land, featuring pie ranch friends
This story was produced in partnership with KALW 91.7 FM. Tune in to KALW's Crosscurrents at 5 p.m. Monday to hear from California's emerging farmers, or listen to the podcast at http://kalwnews.org.
PESCADERO -- In 2005, would-be farmers Nancy Vail and Jered Lawson spotted an old barn along Highway 1 that would make a good produce stand, along with 13 acres of prime coastal property, available for $1.25 million. They jumped at the chance to buy it.
"We were incredibly lucky," Vail said. "It's a lot of money, but it's actually pretty good."
Indeed, Vail and Lawson, who operate Pie Ranch, a nonprofit educational farm on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, were lucky to find land to farm.
They are part of a new and growing generation of farmers who aspire to deliver locally grown organic food to their communities but can't usually afford the land to do so.
Access to land is the main impediment to beginning farmers and ranchers today, said Reggie Knox, Central Coast coordinator for California FarmLink, a nonprofit that works to preserve family farming and conserve farmland in California.
"Small farmers like to be close to urban areas," said Knox, who has a long waiting list of people who are looking for affordable farmland. "Land values are going up around all the urban areas, so it's harder to get into land."
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