The Land Trust for Santa Barbara County joined with Betteravia Farms, the Santa Maria grower of Bonipak produce, in a deal that conserves prime wildlife habitat and grazing lands in the hills west of Orcutt and clears the way for expansion of agriculture along Hwy 1.
Betteravia Farms dates back to the 1930s when friends Milo Ferini and Dominick Ardantz recognized the exceptional potential for agriculture in this area, and started a small sugar beet farm that has grown into one of the county’s largest agricultural operations with more than 600 local employees.
Running an agribusiness is never easy, but in this particular part of Santa Barbara County, the presence of a seldom-seen, federally endangered species called the California tiger salamander has made the enterprise even more challenging. While many farmers and ranchers might view this as an obstacle, a growing number of landowners see the potential to balance both habitat and crops. For Betteravia Farms it turns out that achieving important conservation goals can also be good business.
Bonipak CEO Joe Leonard told us, “As a family owned farm, welcoming in our fourth generation of farmers, we understand the importance of preserving our land and natural habitats for generations to come. We are proud to have accomplished a model for cooperation between agricultural businesses and conservation agencies in Santa Barbara County.”
The success of this project relied heavily on cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife who recognize that conservation of habitat in Santa Barbara County is best achieved by engaging with landowners and understanding their challenges.