The first organic packing shed in California’s Imperial Valley is scheduled to begin operations in August of this year. The shed will be owned and operated by Doc’s Organics, which grows 630 acres of organic citrus in the valley. The facility is currently under construction in Westmoreland.
The shed was financed in part by an Agricultural Benefit Program loan from Imperial County. The county’s board of supervisors approved a $500,000 loan, with a portion of the loan eligible to be forgiven based upon the number of jobs created by the packing shed. The facility is expected to cost $7 million.
Local officials felt the loan was justified as it would bring new jobs to the county. “It’s going to be a benefit to the county, creating jobs and adding to the value of our crop and branding an Imperial County commodity,” said Ryan Kelley, Imperial County supervisor for District 4, in an interview with a local TV station.
In 2015, a total of 6,743 acres of citrus trees were under cultivation in Imperial County in Southern California. The county is located east of San Diego and west of Arizona, with Mexico to the south and the Salton Sea to the north.
Much of the citrus grown in the area is not organic and can be packed by an existing packing house located in Calipatria. Organic produce, however, had to be shipped out of the Imperial Valley to one of four organic packers in Southern California.
Due to consumer demand, organically grown produce of all kinds is expanding in Imperial County. In 2011, there were 26 growers in the county, farming a total of 7,487 acres with crops estimated at $39 million in value. In 2015, there were 36 growers with 31,934 acres and $275 million in value.
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