Santa Rosa Road runs east/west along the Santa Ynez River from Buellton to Lompoc. There is a bright yellow road sign near the beginning of the road that is simply a silhouette of a person on a farm tractor with a smaller sign below with the words: NEXT 16 MILES.
The word ‘produce’ as a verb means to “make or manufacture” or “yield, grow or supply” and as a noun, “things that have been produced or grown, esp. by farming”.
Scouting for places to paint, Libby and I came across an abundant surprise. Early last spring we drove through the same area and saw lots of barren dirt fields and acres of vineyard not yet leafed out. Old farm machinery parked on dirt roads added to the feeling of winter neglect, leftover drought and emptiness. But it had rained…
Returning to the same area in August, we were amazed at what we saw: patchworks of color and texture along the rich river bottomland and fields full of produce being picked and readied to ship. The variety of vegetables was astonishing: onions, acorn squash, pumpkins, kabocha squash, butternut squash, tomatoes, peppers, cauliflower, cabbage, peas, corn, lima beans as well as berries in greenhouses, the ubiquitous vineyards, small organic farms with large varieties of vegetables and herbs. Old walnut groves still thrived in some areas. There is still a lot of open rangeland with cattle and horses quietly grazing - very ‘old California’.
The entire area is still beautifully rural and, with the exception of some fancy wine-tasting facilities, still very undeveloped, but certainly not unproductive. May the river continue to feed the fields and sustain the agricultural roots of the area.