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Daily news from Monterey County Weekly

ETC. Photo of the day by Parker Seibold. Squid gets Squid’s 15 minutes of fame in Seaside, in a new mural on the wall of Monterey County Weekly. Painted by Bryan Gage, and funded thanks to a grant from the Arts Council for Monterey County. Shot with a Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, 24mm lens, f4.0, ISO 100, shutter 1/1250. Submit your best horizontal photos. (Please include the location where the photo was taken in the caption.)

Good afternoon. 

Like many of us, I’ve become glued to data lately, regularly checking the Monterey County Health Department’s Covid-19 reporting and the state of California’s reporting to watch trends and see how we’re doing and if we’re meeting reopening targets. It changes at least daily, and it feels like our lives could change in an instant based on what’s reported. 

Then there are other kinds of data, like the Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner’s annual crop report, which details the year in the county’s ag industry through numbers. In times like this, releasing a report on June 23 that covers 2019 feels strangely anachronistic, but it’s actually right on time. Every day, per California Food and Agricultural Code Sections 2272 and 2279, the ag commissioner’s team gathers reports from all the players in Monterey County’s biggest industry, and by mid-year, put out this document.

Last year, production value of Monterey County’s crops reached more than $4.4 billion—that’s gross value, before subtracting costs like planting, irrigation and harvesting. Like all years, there was a jockeying between strawberries and lettuce for the top spot. (Lettuce came in first, strawberries second, valued at $840 million and $733 million, respectively.) As Asaf Shalev reports, the big surprise came in the number-five spot, above celery, wine grapes and spinach: cannabis. 

It’s been an amazing ride for cannabis, from illegal substance to allowed for medical use to legal for recreational use—to being deemed an essential industry during shelter-in-place

Until this year, cannabis didn’t even rate for a crop report, and it’s still something of an outcast, being relegated to a supplemental report because it remains classified federally as a Schedule 1 drug. 

Just yesterday, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors allocated $250,000 from cannabis tax revenue to the Food Bank for Monterey County. Cannabis is literally helping pay for necessities for people in need. I remember not so long ago (OK, 2016) sitting in the Board of Supervisors chambers for a discussion on whether to legalize cannabis grows, and the fears that some agribusiness voices expressed. Those days seem long over.

Cannabis still has a ways to go as an industry as far as being fully accepted into the fold, with that federal dismissal affecting not just its placement on the crop report, but ability to bank in federally insured institutions. But the crop report marks progress, and something to celebrate.

-Sara Rubin, editor, sara@mcweekly.com

P.S. We at Monterey County Weekly appreciate our readers’ support more than ever right now. Thank you to those of you who are Weekly Insiders; if you haven’t joined us yet, please consider doing so today.

Sponsored by Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System
BY THE NUMBERS

CORONAVIRUS TRENDS

as of 4:30pm PST
    CASES +/-* DEATHS
MO. CO. 1,397 4% 12
CA 194,876 2% 5,714
USA 2,369,039 2% 115,531
WORLD 9,391,433 2% 481,036
 
*Percentage change from the prior day. 
Sources: Monterey County Health Department, Los Angeles Times, Covid Tracking Project, Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.
How is California doing on controlling Covid-19 as the economy reopens? The chart above (in blue) shoes the number of positive cases, and the chart below (in black) shoes the number of deaths.
LATEST LOCAL NEWS

Hartnell College is the only community college in California to receive money from the National Endowment for the Humanities in a round of CARES Act funding. The $263,000 will support online programs including languages, the arts, ethnic studies and philosophy.

At 86.6 acres of cultivation, cannabis brought in $450 million, roughly $5.2 million per acre, according to the county crop report for 2019, released yesterday. The footprint of the crop is minuscule compared to its nearest-ranking crop, broccoli, which required 54,000 acres for revenues of $457 billion.

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LOCAL INSPIRATION
Parker Seibold

Are you discovering your inner gardener during shelter in place? Big Sur Land Trust has some ideas for how to attract birds and pollinators—and you don’t even need a lot of space. This video explains how to start a native plant container garden from seed.

What’s your personal experience of this unprecedented moment in history? The Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History is assembling a human history, and gathering stories to create a time capsule. Submit yours online, and stories will be archived at the museum—which reopens on Monday, June 29.

IN CONTEXT

Running a county health department isn’t always a high-profile or controversial job, but shelter-in-place orders have changed that. In Los Angeles County, it got so extreme the health director received death threats.
-Los Angeles Times, June 22, 2020

The deputy managing editor of ProPublica saw a police car hit a kid—and in the aftermath, saw ways in which the police are shielded from accountability. 
-ProPublica, June 23, 2020

TOOLBOX

Fresh air feels like a scarce resource…because seriously, one can only go on so many neighborhood walks. While the Pinnacles National Park Foundation isn’t making any promises, they do want to know how your travel plans and recreational use was affected to better plan for the future. Let them know in a short five-minute survey

The city of Monterey made its own city-scale version of the CARES Act, thanks to a partnership of the Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. Peninsula-based businesses with one to 20 employees that have been operating for at least one year are eligible to apply for $25,000. So far, the city has given grants to 81 businesses ranging from $5,000 to $20,000. Applications are open online. You can also donate to the fund by calling 375-9712, or online via the Community Foundation for Monterey County.

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HELPFUL DISTRACTIONS

The fair must go on. The Monterey County fair is seeking entries to be judged and displayed at this year’s fair, happening Sept. 3-7. The official book of rules and requirements is only available online due to Covid-19. Time to brush up on grandma’s apple pie recipe.

Do you remember what it was like to share a dinner table with people outside of your household? This story of last Ramadan meal, at a sundown dinner at the Seaside mosque, is a reminder of the power of the plate.

A woman tells her survival story about her nearly fatal fall from 1,300-foot ice face. After 10 surgeries, she decided to bike from Monterey to New York.
From the Weekly’s Jukebox:  Modern Life
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