Skip to main content


California Lawmakers Reject Proposal to Curb Well-Drilling Where Nearby Wells Could Run Dry

Assemblymember Steve Bennett (D-Ventura), who introduced the bill, said it was intended to address a significant loophole in California’s groundwater law. The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, passed in 2014, created local agencies tasked with developing plans for curbing overpumping in many areas of the state, but left counties in charge of issuing permits for new wells.

Water Works: $17M in State Grants to Fund Several VC Water Projects

Mike Barber is board president of the Garden Acres Mutual Water Company serving the unincorporated community of Nyeland Acres next to the 101 Freeway. He is probably better known, however, as the person who rescued a huge Santa Claus statue slated for demolition in Carpinteria, moving it to its new home on water district property near Oxnard in 2003. He’s also the founder of the Santa to the Sea Half Marathon.

On Friday, May 17, Barber’s tiny utility serving around half the homes in Nyeland Acres hosted a news conference detailing how $17.6 million in state funding will be spent on several projects across Ventura County, while also honoring the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) grant funding recipients.

The Farmers Leaning On Each Other's Tools

For three years, Nathanael Gonzales-Siemens drove up California's coast for 14 hours every month for a routine task: milling his grain into flour. "I was literally not able to find a flour mill at my scale, and we're not tiny," he said. "We've got 150 acres of grain." He found this disconcerting, not only for himself but the future of small-scale grain farming in California, once known for its golden hills of grain.

As California has lost much of its grain to higher value crops, small flour mills and grain cleaning businesses have disappeared, too. It's a symptom of what Gonzales-Siemens sees as a larger problem facing many farmers, awash in a marketplace dominated by highly concentrated operations as regional farm infrastructure atrophies.

Rubicon Theatre Company Receives $1.5 Million Gift From State of California

On Saturday, December 9, California State Senator MONIQUE LIMÓN and Assemblymember STEVE BENNETT presented a check for $1.5 million to Rubicon Theatre Company, Ventura's not-for-profit professional theatre company in Ventura, California.

The funds were announced to cheers from Rubicon's opening night audience for The World Goes ‘Round, a revue of the music of Kander & Ebb (Chicago, Cabaret, Kiss of the Spider Woman, New York, New York, etc.).

Successful Farming Through Sharing

Cooperative Development and Equipment Sharing Is an Equitable Solution that California's Family Farmers Need to Succeed

Tractor in foreground with workers in background

Nate Gonzalez-Siemens of Fat Uncle Farms and Melissa Sorongon of Piedrasassi are exceptional in the south SanJoaquin Valley and the Central Coast: They are both small-scale farmers who grow grain as part of their diversifiedoperations. Consequently, small-scale and biologically diverse farming operations like Nate's and Melissa's require agreater variety of costly equipment, some of which is only used a few times a year.

Today, the realities of climate change, the structure of the supply chain, and food system inequities disproportionatelynegatively impact California's local food producers. The high costs of land, equipment, infrastructure, and water havemade it nearly impossible for young, beginning, and small farmers such as Nate and Melissa to access thesebaseline needs. And the farmers who are able to overcome these barriers and establish small businesses stillstruggle to access these resources. Roughly three-fourths of farmers in California operate on less than $100,000 inannual sales, making the purchase of any new equipment, which can average between $5,000 to $30,000 or more, achallenge. Some types of equipment, such as harvesting equipment, electric tractors, or refrigeration units can costover $100,000.