Has the recent rain helped Central Coast farmers?

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The rain that hit California over the past week was a welcome sight for farmers along the Central Coast. But, as we enter what may be a seventh year of drought, has this rain really helped our local farmers?

To answer that question, market host Katie Hershfelt spoke with Mike Iniguez, who’s been farming in Santa Barbara, rain or shine, since 1980.

Mike Iniguez and his wife, Lorena, work on their Goleta farm with a handful of workers. (Kathryn Barnes/KCRW)

The short answer is yes. Because of this winter’s rain, Iniquez hasn’t had to water his crops for the last two months. That’s good news, according to Iniquez, since the City of Goleta’s decision to raise water rates in 2015 took a toll on his profits.

“Last year was hard,” said Iniquez, who had to cut down production on his 15 acres by 40 percent. “I felt like I didn’t have enough money to pay my water bills.”

The recent rain has allowed him to boost production, not quite to 100 percent, but almost. It’s also allowed him to plant produce like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and peas, which he would only grow during rainy months since they need quite a bit of water.

Cabbage needs a lot of water to grow, so Iniguez only plants it during rainy months. (Kathryn Barnes/KCRW)

But, Iniquez still worries about the future of his farm. In the 37 years he’s been farming, this is the first time he’s had to limit his production due to rain shortages and water rates.

“I hope this year will be different,” he said.

Iniguez isn’t the only farmer struggling in Goleta. Listen to our interview with Jack Motter of Ellwood Canyon Farms here.

To check out all our past farmers market segments, head to kcrw.com/meetatthemarket.