Where We Work
Our home base—and our namesake—is the Cuyama Valley, a 75 mile long mountain-ringed stretch of land located in Central California. The name Cuyama derives from kuyam, the name of the Chumash village that inhabited this valley for 10,000 years prior to the arrival of the Spanish. Kuyam means “freshwater clam,” a reminder of how much this landscape has changed over the years, both by human and more-than-human forces. The arrival of the Spanish 250 years ago brought about the concurrent arrival of their livestock, a force that changed the landscape in dramatic and largely unconscious ways. At Cuyama Lamb we’ve seen firsthand the ways that historic grazing practices have impacted our land in negative ways. Today, we seek to harness that power to change landscapes to revive the native ecologies of our valley by grazing differently.
Our home base and the site of original inspiration for Cuyama Lamb, Quail Springs is an educational non-profit, subsistence farm, and community nestled into one of Cuyama Valley’s subsidiary canyons in the Ventucopa Uplands. Our 450 acres is home to a perennial spring—one of the last left in the Cuyama Valley—that has been tended by residents since the inception of Quail Springs in 2004 from a depleting trickle into an increasingly robust riparian corridor that provides refuge for a prolific number of plant and animal species. Cuyama Lamb was born out of a central mission of Quail Springs: to tend and restore the land we live on.
The Gaviota Coast is stunning section of coastline that showcases the quintessential landscape of California: rolling golden hills. In summer it’s the Avena fatua (wild oat) that grants that golden hue, while in spring it’s the yellow-blossoming wild mustard (Brassica spp.), both of which swept the state after the arrival of the Spanish. While these plants have become definitive in our state, California ecologies have not grown less accustomed to their presence: they crowd out natives, including every local species of bunchgrass that historically inhabited the region, providing essential habitat for bird and mammalian species and preventing soil erosion. Cuyama Lamb is working with ranches on the Gaviota Coast to restore balance to these coastal grassland ecosystems.