Kennon-Green & Co. Global Asset Management and Value Investing

Ojai and the Santa Ynez Valley Make Me Want to Buy a Farm

I’ve never seen land like the real estate in the Ynez Valley, including the drive to Ojai, California.  This is one of, if not the, most beautiful place in the United States.  Once you make it out of the cities, it’s nothing but huge, rolling fields with tractors going through them, blueberries, strawberries, grapes, citrus, cattle, and horses; it’s perfection.  I’m not going to go all Green Acres on you, but this speaks to my childhood in Missouri in a way no other place has.  The fact that this exists right next door to the area outside of Buellton on the way to Solvang … this part of California is remarkable.  Were I a politician here, I’d push very hard to break it into its own individual state because the needs of the population and industry are so vastly different than what is happening further South.

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I’m going to start studying the real estate around the area because, even if I don’t do anything now, at this point in my life, there very well might come a day I build a working farm as a sort of tertiary retreat.  The land prices aren’t bad given the quality of views – e.g., look at this 20 acre plot.  It’s only $695,000 and you’d get to walk out to that every morning.  Unfortunately, I don’t know much about the crop yields here since my knowledge is limited to Iowa farm land, so I can’t tell you if they offer a good return on capital under conservative assumptions.  You can’t purchase a farm on how pretty it looks; it’s got to make money.  That will be on my task list when I get back home.  In a few months, I’ll probably be able to tell you are failure rates of various theoretical crop allocations on a working estate.  It’s in my nature.  I need to know whether strawberries or blueberries are going to pay higher dividends.

There are a lot more photographs but they’re generally more of the same so I don’t want to bore you with all of them.  Suffice it to say, this is my kind of place (and Aaron prefers it over more coastal cities like Pacific Palisades).  At least for part of the year.  I think I’d rather live somewhere closer to a major population and escape from time to time.  It’s so weird that such a thing is possible out here.  California has 158,648 square miles of land and it’s so different that tiny distances can put you in entire different cultures and climates.  Ojai, for example, is only 194 miles away from La Jolla, yet you’d think we were in a different country.

Who knew wine country would capture my heart?  Turns out, anywhere vineyards can grow abundantly, I’m probably going to like.  If I want more isolation, this is my place.  If I want to live closer to civilization, it’s Temecula wine country.  I never would have guessed.

Leaving Solvang for Ojai

We’re leaving Solvang and heading to Ojai to see huge farms and ranches … I love the color of the paint on the roadside.  It’s not really red, it’s more of a berry with hints of pink.  I’ve never seen anything quite like it.  The view isn’t bad, either.

Driving In Santa Barbara Area

We’re listening to the Final Fantasy XIII-2 soundtrack at certain parts of this drive and it is haunting with the landscape.  It makes me feel like we’re in the middle of a video game.

Making Our Way Down a Mountain

We’re heading back through the Santa Monica area to get on a road directly to Ojai …

Cutting Back Through Santa Barbara for Ojai

Cutting back through the city …

More Santa Barbara To Get to Ojai

We’re driving, we’re driving …

Santa Barbara Towards Ojai Visitor Center

and … stop. No, just kidding, we’re still driving.

Driving Driving Driving

We’re almost too our Ojai turnoff …

Working the Fields Santa Barbara

And now we’re on our way. The first thing that greeted us on the way to Ojai was a field of workers harvesting fruit … I’m surprised this is still done by hand and there hasn’t been an appropriate John Deere invention.

Only 18 Miles to Ojai

Only 18 miles to Ojai …

Los Padres National Forest

Los Padres National Forest …

Beautiful Mountains on Way to Ojai

At one point, Aaron looked over and said, “I think this is the most beautiful drive I’ve ever been on in my entire life.”  It definitely was.  The Ynez Valley and the surrounding areas we’ve been through lately are beyond anything I knew existed in the United States.

Looks Like Missouri on Way to Ojai

This looks like home!  You know, minus the mountains and nice weather.  Otherwise, it could be Missouri!

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Breathtaking California Landscape on Way to Ojai

This is better than most parts of Colorado …

In Ojai Itself

The city of Ojai itself itself could use quite a bit of work … it’s definitely a working, middle class town; a far cry from the more affluent Temecula or the even more affluent Rancho Santa Fe, for example, but for someone who wanted to live in the outdoors and what most of the country considers a normal, boring life, this place is great.  The views are the best I’ve seen in all of California.

Welcome to Ojai

There are some huge, multi-million dollar estates on the outskirt of town with all sorts of crops growing.  This is the type of place my grandmother, Ruby, would love.  She could live on a farm here and never want to leave.

Country Club Ojai

I wanted to see get another shot of how it looked closer to the mountain from inside the town.

Drilling for Oil on Drive from Ojai California

Again, more oil derricks. These things are everywhere. I like it. Actually, I’d prefer if we were entirely nuclear and solar, but for now, the industry of this makes me happy.

Adjacent Hotel in Oxnard Near Strawberry Fields

We’ve driven back to Oxnard to make our next loop starting in the morning. We’re staying at the HIlton Garden Inn across from the strawberry fields. Here was the view from the room …

Strawberry Fields in Oxnard California from Hilton Garden Inn Window

This makes me want to grow strawberries. I wonder what the market value of the crops are. I have so much reading to do when I get home … corn, soybeans, etc., I have a general idea but I’m clueless on this.

View of Oxnard to the Right

You can see the commercial and industrial buildings of Oxnard over to our right …

God willing, we enjoy average or better life expectancies, you are now forewarned that in 30 years, you might just walk into your grocery store and see Kennon Farms jam, jelly, and preserves from Ojai, California.  If you do, you’ll know I started a side project that took root in my imagination decades prior.

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