For well over a century, rich soils and a moderate climate have made Santa Cruz county ideally suited for growing a wide variety of crops, making it one of the most agriculturally diverse regions in the United States. The county is famous for its strawberries, raspberries, apples, lettuce and Brussels sprouts. Santa Cruz is also the birthplace and the beating heart of the organic farming movement in America.
According to a report prepared by Agricultural Impact Associates LLC for the Santa Cruz County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office, agriculture contributes nearly $900 million to the county’s economy. This is equivalent to 5.2 percent of the area’s economic output, underlining just how important agriculture is to the region.
Unsurprisingly, many of the same factors that make the county so ideal for growing fruits, flowers and vegetables have also made it popular with outdoor growers of cannabis. Let us look at these factors in depth.
1. Ideal Growing Conditions
According to climate-data.org, Santa Cruz has a warm and temperate climate, with average annual temperatures hovering around 57°F (14°C). The warmest month of the year is August with average temperatures of 63°F (17.2°C) while the coolest is January with average temperatures of 50°F (9.8°C).
The area receives an average of 27 inches (693 millimeters) of rainfall every year. The frost-free growing season is long, ranging from 220 to 275 days. Soil type varies from area to area, but most is loamy and generally well drained, according to information from a Santa Cruz county soil survey report by the United States Department of Agriculture.
It is this combination of conditions that make Santa Cruz so ideal for outdoor cannabis grows. While both plants grow well in a wide range of environments, extreme weather – high winds, heavy rains and very high or low temperatures – waterlogging and poor soils can harm or kill them or reduce their yields.
Data from a 2017 county environmental impact analysis report indicates that most outdoor cannabis grows are located in the Mountain region of the county, which features various types of deep, generally well-drained loam soils. Two other factors make this area particularly attractive for outdoor grows; a large number of trees, which shelter growing cannabis plants from strong winds, and relative seclusion, which provides some cover from nosy or judgmental neighbors.
2. A Supportive Regulatory Environment
The use of cannabis for medicinal purposes has been legal in California since 1996, while recreational use has been legal since 2016. However, the law still requires players in the cannabis supply chain – growers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers – to get licenses from local agencies to operate. For this reason, the regulatory environment in a county is a strong determinant of how well legal marijuana thrives. How is Santa Cruz county doing on that count?
Relatively well, it turns out. The county actually started working on a legal framework for regulating recreational pot use and cultivation in 2010 and 2013 respectively. Its eponymous capital was among the first few cities in California to permit recreational cannabis use on January 1, 2018. By October 2019, 12 retail outlets, or dispensaries, had been licensed to sell and deliver cannabis and related products for both medicinal and recreational use in the unincorporated area of the county. The permits are renewed every year, subject to re-inspection and review of application documents. The county also issues licenses for commercial non-retail cultivation, manufacture and distribution of cannabis. To streamline the process of issuing pot-related permits, the county established a special agency, the Cannabis Licensing Office, which acts as a one-stop shop for prospective licensees.
However, while the overall thrust of the regulatory regime is supportive, it still has some kinks that need be worked out. For instance, the costs of adhering to licensing requirements are so high that they disadvantage smaller growers and lead to high retail prices for legal pot.
3. Established Agricultural Ecosystem
Ideal growing conditions and a supportive legal environment would mean little if, say, growers had difficulty accessing high-quality seeds or clones for planting, or if they did not have access to processing supplies, equipment or facilities. Fortunately, the agricultural ecosystem in Santa Cruz county is very developed, and translates well to the needs of cannabis growers like Goldenseed. The greenhouses and storage warehouses, not to mention the prime location, are ideal.
Goldenseed is a homegrown Santa Cruz operation, and is proud to offer a chance for anyone to invest in the company through a Regulation A public stock offering. While we’re still a private company, this has allowed more than 7,500 people from all over the United States (and the world) to buy real shares in our cannabis farm for as little as $200. Investing in private companies like Goldenseed is no longer just for the rich and well-connected. We’re building a community of like-minded fans who want to be part of the new era of California cannabis cultivation just like we do.
It’s a beautiful growing season here in Santa Cruz—but don’t take our word for it! Invest in Goldenseed today, and come visit us in Santa Cruz to see the plants and greenhouses for yourself. We’ll see you at the farm.