In recent months, I’ve become a regular at the Haggin Oaks farmers market organized by the Hens Roost, a company dedicated to providing local food to the community year-round.
Chatting with owner Jaclyn Allen on occasion to get the inside scoop on what’s in season and what’s trending, it still blows my mind to hear that so much of the produce available at the Brimhall and Haggin Oaks farmers markets on Saturdays and Sundays were picked just days prior.
This is truly as fresh as you can get as local produce harvested on local farms are served on local tables in a matter of days.
But I also can’t help but think about all the work that goes into growing those crops. It’s easy to forget that the consumption of these fruits and vegetables is really the denouement of a monthslong effort that began with crops receiving tender love and care from farmers across Kern County.
As the nation’s top agricultural producer, Kern County farms not only play a major role in feeding the country and the world, they provide jobs and help bolster the economy. This is something we shouldn’t underestimate or take for granted but we do.
From tariffs to water restrictions to declining land values, farmers are faced with difficult decisions whose impact can be felt far beyond Kern County’s borders.
Most will press on — fueled by passion and a strong sense of duty and tradition — while others, feeling their hearts are not in it anymore, may choose to sell or cease operations altogether. It’s a struggle many of us will never be aware of, especially when we go to our local grocery stores and see the produce aisles fully stocked.
This issue of the Kern Business Journey sheds light on an industry that generates one-fifth of Kern County’s gross domestic product and employs roughly 20 percent of its workforce.
In her final article as executive director of the Kern County Farm Bureau, Beatris Espericueta Sanders draws attention to the tariffs growers face Page 8. Four of Kern County’s top five commodities — table grapes, almonds, citrus and pistachios — have the highest-imposed tariffs, which means a lot is at stake in Kern County if the tariff discussion does not resolve itself or worsens.
TBC Media Business Editor John Cox writes about the dilemma farmers face as they deal with declining ag land values and water restrictions on Page 7.
“It’s either a good time to sell or a good time to buy, depending if you’re committed to ag or you’re committed to being fiduciaries to your family’s assets,” Edison-area farmer Steve Murray told Cox.
It’s not easy feeding the world. But Kern County’s farmers continue to fight the good fight because farming is a business like no other. Farmers have deep attachment and love for their work and we as consumers are the beneficiaries of that dedication.
We should always remember that every time we put produce from farms onto our tables.