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Strawberry Industry Dinner Spotlights Cachuma Resource Conservation District

Annual event at the Santa Maria Fairpark organized by the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce

Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce CEO/President Glenn Morris, left, poses with Anna Olsen, Cachuma Resource Conservation District executive director and Congressman Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara during the Santa Maria Valley Strawberry Recognition Dinner on Wednesday night. Click to view larger
Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce CEO/President Glenn Morris, left, poses with Anna Olsen, Cachuma Resource Conservation District executive director and Congressman Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara during the Santa Maria Valley Strawberry Recognition Dinner on Wednesday night. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Growers and supporters paused to celebrate Santa Barbara County’s top crop — and highlight one partner often overlooked — during the 28th Annual Strawberry Industry Recognition Dinner Wednesday night in Santa Maria.

Hundreds filled the Santa Maria Fairpark Convention Center for the event, organized by the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce, to spotlight companies and people who produce package and sell the red berry.

During this year’s recognition dinner, the Cachuma Resource Conservation District received the Industry Partner of the Year Award, presented by Congressman Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, to Executive Director Anna Olsen. 

The district supports and promotes economically viable and environmentally sustainable farming and ranching operations, with a focus on education, technical assistance and large-scale planning.

Operating from an office in Santa Maria, the district encompasses 1.9 million acres, most of which sit in Santa Barbara County and includes the Channel Islands. 

But the area also includes 157,400 acres of San Luis Obispo County within the Santa Maria and Cuyama valleys, plus nearly 9,000 acres of southwestern Kern County. 

Strawberries make up the centerpieces at the 28th annual Strawberry Industry Recognition Dinner in Santa Maria on Wednesday night. Click to view larger
Strawberries make up the centerpieces at the 28th annual Strawberry Industry Recognition Dinner in Santa Maria on Wednesday night. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Along with local, state and federal agencies, the district works with nonprofit organizations, private landowners and public land managers for assorted programs to balance economic and environmental goals. 

Projects focus on soil, water, wildlife and climate.

For instance, one project centered on a study and action plan to identify steps to support agricultural water security through a combination of water-use efficiency, conservation, and stewardship measures.  

The dinner celebrated the juicy berry in several ways, including as table centerpieces and dessert with red and white making up the decor.

During Wednesday night's dinner, Rick Tomlinson, from the California Strawberry Commission, also gave a brief update. 

He noted that the commission’s annual scholarship program for children of industry employees paid more than $1.6 million to more than 1,000 students.

April is the unofficial start of strawberry season in the Santa Maria Valley, with the recognition dinner kicking off the month and the annual Santa Maria Valley Strawberry Festival filling three days at the end April.

This year’s festival, with the theme “A Berry Good Time,” will be April 27-29 at the Fairpark.

Presale tickets are available through April 23, with more information and purchases available by clicking here.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

A large crowd fills the 28th Annual Strawberry Industry Recognition Dinner on Wednesday night at the Santa Maria Fairpark. Click to view larger
A large crowd fills the 28th Annual Strawberry Industry Recognition Dinner on Wednesday night at the Santa Maria Fairpark. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)
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