They used to grow lima beans at El Toro…
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: MAY 27, 2010
CONTACT: JENN STARNES, 949-724-6574
Irvine City Council Approves Great Park’s 114-acre Agricultural Lease with Local Farmer to Develop Community Farm
Land will return to agricultural production
IRVINE – Irvine City Council members approved the Orange County Great Park Board’s recommendation of a 114-acre agricultural lease agreement with Orange County Produce, LLC to develop the Great Park Community Farm. The agreement marks the return of farming to the Great Park for the first time since James Irvine sold his lima bean fields to the U.S. Government 70 years ago to create the Marine Corps Air Station at El Toro. Orange County Produce is owned by the Kawamura family, Orange County’s leading farming family.
“The Kawamura family has been farming in Orange County for 60 years and Orange County Produce is a prominent farming operation in the county,” said Larry Agran, Chair of the Orange County Great Park Corporation and Irvine Mayor Pro Tem. “They have a long history of community and charity involvement, ideals that reflect the vision of the Great Park. We look forward to realizing the possibilities this working relationship will provide to the public.”
The lease was awarded on a competitive basis through the City of Irvine’s Request for Proposal (RFP) process. The detailed, 400-page RFP for this project was available to the public, and Great Park staff also notified seven leading agricultural firms and all county farm bureaus in Southern California of the opportunity.
Orange County Produce, LLC has agreed to sign a four year lease, which will obligate them to spend several hundred thousand dollars to provide infrastructure and prepare the property for farming. Enhancements will include the installation of sub-main irrigation lines and irrigation valves, drip irrigation for planted crops, drainage channels for surface water runs, and storage facility for production and equipment to be used in the farming process. The lease also requires the planting and maintenance of citrus trees.
““We would like to create an agricultural legacy in our great county,” said Matt Kawamura, co-owner, Orange County Produce. “We want to provide a showcase of ideas and research that will enhance the way farming has evolved and will continue to evolve well into the future. We have developed a relationship with the local food banks and plan to continue to help feed the hungry with food and fiber from the Great Park.”
Orange County Produce is already farming on Great Park land. The company grew eight tons of fresh produce at the Park’s Farm and Food Lab which they picked, packed and delivered to the Orange County Food Bank and Second Harvest Food Bank. They also grew more than 100 tons of fresh fruits and vegetables from their other farming operations throughout the county that was distributed to local area food banks.
“We are committed to partnering with local farmers and including them with The Great Park’s vision for the agricultural land. We are also committed to working with the county’s school districts to provide healthy food and fiber to our students through the schools lunch programs,” Kawamura added.
The Orange County Great Park, which is planned to be almost twice the size of New York’s Central Park, will be a major metropolitan park and the focal point of the redevelopment of the 4,700-acre former Marine Corps Air Station at El Toro. The Great Park currently includes a 27.5 -acre Preview Park and an iconic tethered helium balloon that rises 400 feet in the air, providing an aerial view of Park development. A $65.5 million development plan to enhance visitor experiences at the Great Park is currently underway. The plan will build out a core section of the Park for the most immediate and wide-ranging public benefit, including a sports park, agricultural area and an art and culture exhibition space.
For more information, please go to www.ocgp.org.