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Ventura has new plan for farmland

Fruit trees are often being cut down to make way for more profitable crops.

The city of Ventura may do just that with ag land it owns.

Ventura bought about 90 acres of avocado and lemon trees years ago with plans to turn the property into a park, but a community park and pool was built off Kimball Road instead.

Now the city wants to make more money off the land near the corner of Petit and Foothill roads. The land is leased month to month to growers busy harvesting crops.

Ventura’s Community Planning Director Jeff Lambert said the city earns about $40,000 a year from the property.

Three growers pitched a plan to create a certified organic farm at the site. Lambert said the group would eventually pay five time the current rent, earning the city $1.6 million in the next decade, but the organic farmers plan to cut down most of the trees to make way for row crops, such as strawberries, Ventura County’s No. 1 cash crop.

The Ventura City Council approved the plan, but the current farmer has the right of first refusal, meaning the farmer could propose a similar plan to keep the lease.

Some neighbors sad they will be sad to see fruit trees cut down. Others said they favor organic farms that don’t spray pesticides. City leaders said the plan calls for having some avocado trees as buffers. A final decision will be made next week.

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