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Watsonville: The Berry Capital of California

By Elisha Neubauer

When people think of California, they usually think of sun, surf, and movie stars, but there is so much more to the dynamic state than just the twinkling lights of Hollywood. Take Watsonville in the Pajaro Valley, for example. Ranked number five in California agricultural production, Watsonville distributes more fruits and vegetables to the rest of the world than any other area in the United States of America. This bustling agriculture market makes Watsonville a prime area for job availability, which boosts the community's economy, and in turn, offers their residents a better quality of life.

Watsonville's agriculture is heavily based on a selection of certain crops: strawberries, apples, fresh flowers, cauliflower, broccoli, and artichokes, among others. However, it is thanks to their tremendous production of berries that Watsonville has earned a sparkling reputation for their California-fresh berries. The Watsonville Berry Co-op is currently boasting a membership of over twenty-seven ranches that have been growing strawberries and raspberries for over fifty years. In fact, there are currently so many strawberries being grown in the Watsonville area that you could circle the globe fifteen times if you laid each farm's berries side by side!

We took a moment to talk to Dan Crowley, the Vice President of Sales and Marketing of Well-Pict Berries, to find out more about these super fruits. According to Crowley, Well-Pict is able to produce premium quality strawberry crops year round due to their berry varieties. "The most important difference is the berries themselves," he explains. "All of Well-Pict Berries' strawberries and raspberries are our own proprietary varieties, bred the old-fashioned way through cross-pollination (no GMO!) for premium traits such as flavor, size, color, and aroma.

These varieties are only available from Well-Pict, and have been developed to take advantage of the climatic differences in our growing regions which range along the California coast and into Baja, as well as Florida. This allows Well-Pict to offer premium quality strawberries twelve months of the year, and raspberries from spring to fall."

In recent years, the California agriculture community has been slowly transitioning to sustainable, green practices, but Well-Pict has been practicing green procedures for over twenty years now. "We're most proud of our longtime commitment to the use of sustainable farming practices," Crowley adds. "Well-Pict is known for utilizing many sustainable practices well ahead of industry trends. A good example is our use of Integrated Pest Management methods to reduce the need for pesticides." He goes on to explain how their focus on green activities goes beyond just farming practices. "Our commitment to sustainability also extends to product packaging. Well-Pict plastic clamshells are 100% recyclable, made up of 70% recycled drinking bottles, and 50% of the power used in the manufacturing process to produce them comes from the sun."

The expansive agriculture market in Watsonville is helping to paint a different picture of the California landscape - one of clean air, healthy crops, and a thriving economy. In addition to providing a bustling job market, Watsonville berry farms are well on their way to leading the agricultural community in the march towards completely sustainable farming practices, making it, in essence, the berry capital of California.

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About The Author

Elisha Neubauer is a freelance editor, ghostwriter, book reviewer, and author. She is...

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