COLUMN: SBALT releases 2023 wall calendar

Nik Dholakia writes to introduce new project, which, in part, aims to educate residents about SBALT-protected lands in San Benito County.

This column was contributed by Nik Dholakia, San Benito Agricultural Land Trust advisor. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent BenitoLink or other affiliated contributors. BenitoLink invites all community members to share their ideas and opinions. By registering as a BenitoLink user in the top right corner of our home page and agreeing to follow our Terms of Use, you can write counter opinions or share your insights on current issues.


In any meandering drive beyond Tres Pinos on Highway 25, one cannot help but take a deep breath, sigh in gratitude, and admire the open spaces – farms, ranches, orchards, vineyards, peaks, and valleys. Indeed, any drive outside of Hollister or San Juan Bautista town limits presents the same lovely, open landscapes – until we begin to encounter signs that we are leaving San Benito County. Whatever opinions people may have about the intensity and type of development happening in San Benito County, most everyone is in favor of preserving our open, agricultural lands.

One organization that has been working diligently, for nearly three decades, toward the goal of preserving the county’s  farm and ranch lands is the San Benito Agricultural Land Trust (SBALT). As its mission states, SBALT strives “to conserve regionally significant lands that sustain productive agriculture, preserve open space, and maintain the rural character of the county.”

The work challenges for SBALT are – well – challenging. The organization must work with agricultural landowners and their families, funders and donors, and numerous federal, state, and local agencies. Most importantly, given the breakneck pace of residential growth in San Benito County, SBALT needs the support of the residents, of San Benito County in particular, and of surrounding counties in general.

With the aim of widening its public reach, this year SBALT has produced the 2023 wall calendar. With inviting pictures of agricultural landscapes in the county, and of the bounty of the produce of the land, this calendar celebrates the value of local agricultural lands.

SBALT’s 2023 wall calendar has multiple aims. It seeks to educate residents about SBALT-protected lands in San Benito County and the bountiful products raised by local farmers and ranchers. The calendar also promotes the land trust and SBALT’s mission to preserve agricultural and open space lands for future generations. Most importantly, the calendar is a beautiful and useful accent to add to homes, retail spaces, and workplaces.

The images in the calendar feature agricultural lands which are permanently protected by SBALT, favorite rural vistas, products grown in San Benito County, and some of the region’s most cherished agricultural traditions. 

Several professional and amateur photographers donated wonderful images for this project. The 2023 wall calendar was made possible by the generosity of many sponsors: Old Adobe Antiques, M&J French Ranch, Graniterock, San Benito Saddle Horse Show & Rodeo, Rene Rodriguez Photography, and Cathy Summa-Wolfe Photography.

SBALT was also fortunate in securing a “Creatives for Community” grant of professional design work, from Waltz Creative. Such grants are part of Waltz Creative’s commitment to inspire and champion local nonprofit organizations in the Central Coast region. Grant recipients receive up to 30 hours of donated time, customized to meet their project objectives. For the SBALT 2023 wall calendar, once the photos and captions were finalized, the creative folks at this agency got to work to produce the layout of the calendar.  

SBALT 2023 wall calendar is priced at $20. It is available at locations throughout San Benito County, including Old Adobe Antiques at 101 Third Street in San Juan Bautista, and B&R Farms, 5280 Fairview Road in Hollister.  Other places where the calendar can be purchased include:

For more information on the calendar, including possibilities of featuring it at holiday markets, please contact Jessica Brem (831) 801-0466.

While SBALT is proud to share its first ever calendar venture with the residents of San Benito County and the worldwide readers of BenitoLink, the organization’s mission, needs, and goals are intergenerational and enduring: to preserve the lovely vistas and productive, agricultural landscapes of the county forever. Whether through the calendar, Ranch Days on the first Sunday of every month, or member events, community residents and others interested are invited to engage with SBALT.

Nik Dholakia

Nik (“Nikhilesh”) Dholakia is Professor Emeritus from the University of Rhode Island. In 2020, he and his professor emerita wife Ruby made a full-time life-changing transition, moving 3000 miles to Hollister, California.