San Mateo County is home to world-leading corporations and some of the most expensive commercial and residential real estate in the nation. What you may not know is the key role local agriculture plays in the economy and in keeping the county a desirable place to live and work. Read on to learn more.
1. Ag is Big Business
Agricultural production totaled $149.2 million in 2018, according to the just-released Agricultural Crop Report. That's an increase of $6.5 million from the prior year. While a big business, the county's agricultural industry has no dominant grower. Instead, the county boasts dozens of small to mid-size farms and ranches.
2. The Top Ag Product is Likely Not What You Think
Indoor floral and nursery crops totaled $87.9 million in value in 2018, up $5.3 million from the prior year and making it by far the largest slice of the ag industry. The coast's ideal climate -- not too hot, not too cold -- make for ideal greenhouse growing conditions. Lavender is grown for its beauty but also its extracts that is used in everything from perfumes to mosquito repellents.
3. The County's Economy Runs on Tech. But You Can't Eat Your Smartphone
The sheer economic size of world-leading corporations hugging the Highway 101 corridor dwarfs the economic output of the county's agricultural industry. But you can't eat a cell phone or an investment portfolio like you can fresh eggs.
4. Everybody Loves a Comeback Story
Brussels sprouts with garlic. Lemony Brussels sprouts. Brussels sprouts sliders. Honey-roasted Brussels sprouts. Sound great, right? It wasn't always this way. The tiny cabbages have made an amazing culinary comeback from the over-cooked and soggy sprouts of many childhood memories. The value of locally grown Brussels sprouts topped $14.2 million in 2018, making it the most valuable vegetable in San Mateo County.
5. Local Farms Protect Against Over-Development
Did you know that plans were once in the works to bring freeways to the San Mateo County coast -- to be followed closely by more subdivisions? Those plans were defeated in part because of the desire to preserve open space and to protect a local supply of fresh food. Working farms that add jobs to the community help to ensure open space stays open. Planted acres of vegetable crops grew in 2018 to 1,944 acres from 1,870 the prior year.
6. You Can Enjoy Local Produce Close to Home...
Farmers' Markets are a great way to enjoy locally grown vegetables, fresh eggs and flowers. The County's Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures lists certified markets -- that is markets where producers sell only their own products -- directly to consumers. Find one near you at agwm.smcgov.org
7. ... Or on the Road
Local ag products in 2018 were shipped to 23 countries and more than a dozen states. The largest consumer? Asia, with 13.3% of total exports. The next largest market was Hawaii (12.4%) followed by the Middle East (9.2%), Canada (6.2%), U.S. territories ((5.4%), Oceana (5.2%) and Europe (0.4%)..
2018 Crop Report Highlights
|Potted Plants||$82.5 million|
|Brussels Sprouts||$14.2 million|
|Forest Products||$5 million|
|Bedding Plants||$3.9 million|
|Fruit and Nut Crops1||$3.4 million|
|Cut Flowers||$2.5 million|
|Field Crops3||$1.5 million|
|Livestock Products/Apiary4||$1.3 million|
|Fava Beans||$1.2 million|
1. Wine grapes, apples, berries, chestnuts, etc. 2. Cattle, calves, goats, lamps, pigs, etc. 3. Dry beans, hay, barley, oats. 4. Honey, beeswax, eggs, cheese, wool, etc.
Commercial Fish Catch:
|Dungeness Crab||801,607||$3.7 million|
|Chinook Salmon||278,786||$3.3 million|
|Squid||2.5 million||$1.3 million|
Included for informational purposes only; totals not included in the Annual Crop Report.