Salinas Valley Monterey
When someone mentions California, especially Silicon Valley, people often think of technology, business, and even nature with beautiful parks and trails. However, there is much more to the state and this area. Salinas Valley is one of the major agricultural regions in all of California, contributing not only to the economy of the state but of the nation.
Development of Salinas Valley
Originally, the area was inhabited by indigenous tribes who spent their time hunting. Spanish missions came into the valley in the late 1700’s, naming the area because of the tule ponds. The term salina is Spanish for salt lake or salt marsh, which was an apt description of the land at that time.
Salinas Valley is bordered by the California Coast Ranges along the south and Monterey Bay to the north. Santa Lucia Range sets the border on the west with the Gabilan Range on the east.
The Agriculture of Salinas Valley
The first crop many consider when thinking of California agriculture is grapes since much of the state is known for its wineries. However, Salinas Valley has many other contributions in addition to the vineyards. Marketers often use the term “Salad Bowl of the World” to describe this area because of the abundance of lettuce, peppers, broccoli, and other edible crops.
Take a drive through Salinas Valley and you’ll see strawberry fields dotting the landscape, along with tomatoes, spinach and lettuce as the major crops. Other crops seen in the area include cauliflower, celery, artichokes, broccoli, and grapes. Matsui Nursery is one of the major businesses in the area with a large selection of flowers, which thrive in the rich soil and warm climate.
Another business in the area that reaps the benefits of local agriculture is Dole. Well-known for its fruits and vegetables, the company is a major employer for the local residents.
Contributing Factors for the Agricultural Success of Salinas Valley
Salinas Valley has a range of climate within the region. To the north, the climate is temperate all year long due to the waters of Monterey Bay and Pacific Ocean. It keeps the weather cooler in the summer while creating a milder climate in the winter. Heat during the summer brings in low clouds and fog from the marine area. It is the perfect climate for the local vineyards. Travel further south and you’ll see hot summers and cold winters.
One of the reasons for the rich soil and abundant crops is the underground water supply. This supply is fed from a watershed in the mountains that surround the valley. San Antonio and Nacimiento are two reservoirs that contribute to the water needs of the farms. Water is stored and released to control flooding and to enhance farming. The groundwater is responsible for irrigating around 275,000 acres of fruits and vegetables.
The Salinas Valley Water Project is attempting to capture more water because of the increasing demand. Because the Salinas River is a sand river, water is only seen on the surface when there is a heavy rain or if the water is released from the reservoirs.
Salinas Valley is an area rich in agriculture, enhancing the economy of the region and the state as it contributes to the food needs of the country and world. Next time you drive along these roads, you’ll be more aware of what this area has to offer.