Climate Leader Profile: Jacobs Farm

Posted on Friday, July 14th, 2017 by Renata Brillinger

Jacobs Farm is an organic farm with operations in Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Mateo Counties, growing a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbs. The farm was started in Pescadero, CA in 1980 and was one of the first organic farms in California. Jacobs Farm has since expanded to include three ranches and two greenhouses in Santa Cruz County and an urban farm in San Jose, CA. Del Cabo produce is also part of Jacobs Farm. Del Cabo is a cooperative of more than 1,100 produce growers in Baja California and other parts of Mexico.

Water Efficiency Improvements Supported by California’s Cap-and-Trade Funds

In 2015, Jacobs Farm won a $25,000 grant from the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) to make irrigation improvements to their 55-acre farm at Swanton Pacific Ranch in Davenport. The grant came from California’s State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP), a program funded with money from the state’s cap-and-trade revenue. It provides financial assistance to growers for on-farm improvements that both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save water.

With SWEEP funding, Jacobs Farm was able to make numerous improvements, including:

  • Replacement of sprinkler heads that improved irrigation distribution patterns;
  • Installation of water meters on all wells and to allow for accurate water use monitoring;
  • Purchase of mobile water saturation sensors connected to WiFi to give farm operators access to real-time information on water saturation in the soil on various fields;
  • Installation of a variable speed drive on one well to regulate flow in order to meet the needs of the field.

According to Greg Rawlings, farm manager at Jacobs Farm and a CalCAN Farmer Advisor, these improvements dramatically reduced watering time and volume, as well as the energy required to pump the water. He estimates that Jacobs Farm “waters two thirds as much time as we used to, and are probably using half of the water.”

Greg noted that the SWEEP application process was fairly time-intensive and required that they hire someone to complete it. He pointed out that this would make it challenging for small farmers with fewer resources to apply. Thus, he suggested that technical support from NRCS and Resource Conservation Districts could be helpful to grant applicants, especially under-resourced producers. CalCAN continues to seek solutions for filling this technical assistance gap and ensure that this important program is accessible to all California farmers.

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