What is in this article?:
- California Ag Field Guide covers diversity of crops
- Historic overview, gallery
- Two University of Nevada, Reno Foundation Professors have teamed up to produce a fact-filled, entertaining, practical guide to California’s production of almost 400 different crops, which has created “the most dramatic modern agricultural landscape in the world,” as the authors argue in the book’s preface.
- Paul Starrs, geography professor, and Peter Goin, art professor, have coauthored “Field Guide to California Agriculture” published by the University of California Press.
With fall upon us, hordes of children recently got a taste of their first “agricultural experience” – a trip to the pumpkin patch. Other city slickers are opting for a weekend in the wine country, venturing to nearby vineyards, blazing in colors of the sunset and buzzing with fall harvest activities.
As agritourism, farmers’ markets, and the organic and slow-food movements have taken off, so has a renewed interest in America’s agriculture. So, the time is ripe for a field guide to California’s most consistent economy – agriculture, consisting of more than 75,000 farms and ranches. Two University of Nevada, Reno Foundation Professors have teamed up to produce a fact-filled, entertaining, practical guide to California’s production of almost 400 different crops, which has created “the most dramatic modern agricultural landscape in the world,” as the authors argue in the book’s preface.
Paul Starrs, geography professor, and Peter Goin, art professor, have coauthored a “Field Guide to California Agriculture” published by the University of California Press. They spent six years developing the work, obviously engaged in a labor of love, as their respect for the industry, its people and the agriculture’s many faces shine through in the 506-page book.
In the book’s preface, Starrs explains, “Believe us: we, too, try to share our love for the eccentricity and possibility of California. All those miles, all those conversations (routinely in Spanish, which we both speak with some fluency), have brought agriculture to life.”
Starrs’ lively and thoughtful writing and Goin’s eye-opening and often humorous photographs transform the book from simply a factual “catalog,” useful to academics and those in the industry, to an enjoyable survey for a general audience that tells a story of heritage, culture and social significance.
“Anyone driving through California will see and understand so much more with a copy of the guide lodged on their car dashboard, ready for consultation,” Starrs said.
“I was particularly struck by the diversity of the crops,” Goin added, “but also of the people in the industry and those who work the fields. California has so many specialty crops partly because of the state’s ethnic diversity and global markets. Think chili peppers, pomegranates, pistachios, prickly pear and pima cotton. It’s a visual and culinary feast.”
The guide covers California’s array of diverse crops and animal products, from chestnuts, cheese and cherries, to cabernet, cattle and cannabis (marijuana). The authors document that marijuana is certainly the state’s largest-value crop and is “a crop fundamental to the economy of the Emerald Triangle, a tricounty area in northwest California that includes Mendocino, Humboldt, and Trinity counties.” They also note that the crop is produced in commercial quantities in all but seven of the state’s 54 counties.