Fires and mudslides couldn't take the bloom off the roses, lilies, chrysanthemums and other assorted flowers grown in the Carpinteria Valley this year. As one of the year's top flower-giving holidays approaches, growers and their representatives say operations are "returning to normal" after the Thomas Fire in December and the Montecito-area mudslide in January.
"We were all lucky," said Rene Van Wingerden, who owns Ocean Breeze Farms in Carpinteria. "The only reason Carpinteria didn't have anything burn down is we didn't have the winds that came with the fires in Ventura. If we would have had wind in Carpinteria, we wouldn't be talking probably today."
Van Wingerden credited Santa Barbara County Agricultural Commissioner Cathy Fisher for helping farmers access properties in evacuation zones, his being one of them.
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