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California has suffered a drought for three years straight, but there’s a stark disparity between those who feel it and those who don’t. For those living in San Francisco or Los Angeles, where water flows freely from the taps and grocery store shelves brim with fruits and vegetables, the crisis can feel very far away. But in the state’s rural Central Valley, where much of this produce is grown, it’s a different story.

The Central Valley produces a quarter of the nation’s food, and close to half of its fruit—citrus alone brings in $2 billion. But there are dozens of acres of empty land in the Valley where growers have ripped out their orchards. Some trees are pruned to the nubs to keep them alive on scant water, while many others are simply dying.

Vanessa Rancaño reports from the Tulare Basin in the southern end of the valley, the area hardest hit.

Photo above is of Adela Perez, of East Porterville, picking grapes in Ducor, CA, on Oct. 13, 2014. Perez wears a scarf to mask herself from the pesticides, dust and sun while working long hours in the fields. After three years of drought in California most growers didn’t have the resources to water sufficiently leaving most crops thin resulting in less work for the pickers. California is in the third year of a severe drought, which has resulted in over 800 million in crop loss in 2014 alone. 

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Farms surround the town of East Porterville, on Oct. 10, 2014. Most of the town’s 7-thousand residents rely on personal wells of which many have run dry.  

 

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Fred Beltran, of Porterville, fills a portable water tank during a weekly free water giveaway in East Porterville, CA, on Oct. 12, 2014. The 300 gallon tanks are made available through the Porterville Area Coordinating Council where they a filled onsite or delivered to homes. Over a thousand homes are without water after a severe three-year drought in California has left the towns mostly shallow wells dry. 

Mexico Daily Life

Shriveled grapes hang from a vine at a farm in Ducor, CA , on Oct. 13, 2014. California is in the third year of a severe drought, which has resulted in over 800 million in crop loss in 2014 alone. 

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Young citrus trees grow in Ducor, CA on November 8, 2014. Because adult citrus trees require a lot of water some farmers have opted to pull out old groves and replace them with saplings that require much less water in the hopes that water will be less scarce in the future. 

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Gustavo Carranza, of Terra Bella owns 100 acres of mostly citrus farms. California is in the third year of a severe drought, which has resulted in over 800 million in crop loss in 2014 alone. If the drought continues, says Carranza, he will go out of business.

 

Photos/Sean Havey
California EndowmentThis story is made possible by the California Endowment, building a strong state by improving the health of all Californians.

 

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