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New South Coast Avocado Orchard On College Campus; Part Of Drive To Revitalize Ag Education Program

You can hear the almost rhythmic sounds of sprinklers as they water the South Coast newest avocado orchard. It’s as state of the art as you can get. But, it’s located in an unlikely spot. The acre plus orchard is on a college campus. It’s part of an effort to revitalize Ventura College’s agricultural program.

Dorothy Farias is an Assistant Professor at Ventura College. She’s coordinates the college’s ag program. Agriculture was a big part of the college’s offerings in the 1950’s and 60’s, but the program all but disappeared in recent years. There are currently about 20 ag students, but Farias says the goal is to beef up classes, and enrollment.

Agriculture is a two billion dollars plus industry a year in Ventura County. But, some local employers say they have a hard time finding qualified new employees locally. Keith Barnard is Vice President of Global Sourcing for Oxnard based Mission Produce. He’s become an advisor for efforts to revitalize the Ventura College ag program, and got Mission to step up to redo the avocado orchard. He says one of the hopes is that by revitalizing the college’s agricultural programs, it will create a new pipeline of potential employees.

Ag students are ecstatic over having an easy to get to learning lab on campus. The orchard could not only be self-sustaining, but create an ongoing revenue source for expanded and new programs.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.