Ag Tech is the next edge for opportunity in tech. Ag is becoming one of the top industries for innovation and investment. Santa Cruz County is in an amazing position to develop a national model on how to build a diverse technology workforce and to become a leader in Ag Tech. When we spoke to the board of directors for the Santa Cruz Farm Bureau and asked what tech needs they had they said two things, mobile apps for small farmers and youth trained in GIS.
Santa Cruz is California’s second smallest county where, if timed correctly, we can get from one end to the other in less than 30 minutes. We have a vibrant technology community and a top-notch university on one end and on the other we have one the nation’s strongest agricultural economy.
This County is attractive for many reasons yet the local technology and agricultural industries struggling to acquire local technology talent and are often forced to hire from over the hill. In South County, 32% of the population is youth under the age of 18. Through the Digital NEST, youth are being trained to fill local tech positions and are the local answer to the lack of a skilled workforce.
What happens if we bring together the Santa Cruz tech scene, the Watsonville agricultural community, and the members of the Digital NEST? That is the question we hope to answer as we launch the ag-tech component of the Digital NEST. We believe we will develop the solutions necessary for the agricultural industry to continue to produce the food we need to sustain our growing world population.