Following in the footsteps of Don Caspar, the Spanish explorer who, in 1769, came upon the area now known as the City of Santa Cruz, we set out to discover the modern beach-side town long known for its liberal leanings, stellar universities, organic agriculture, and social activism. Of the few locals we had the opportunity to meet on our visit we were impressed with their passion for the outdoors, their deep sense of community, their love of dining out and eating good food, and the likelihood that they are regular surfers taking advantage of the legendary waves along Santa Cruz’s busy coastline.
These local devotees of fine fresh local food have not made Santa Cruz their home by accident. The vibrant food and farming scene is an outgrowth of local university, U.C. Santa Cruz’s well-regarded agricultural program. Known the world over, the university’s Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems has produced a steady stream of graduates, many of whom have gone on to start local farms and other businesses, adding to the vibrant local agriculture scene.