WESTMORLAND, Calif. - The Imperial Valley is set to get its first organic packing shed this summer. The county supervisors recently approved a loan in favor for the project.
News 11’s Nico Payne spoke to agricultural officials and developers spearheading the new facility.
“Right now what we do is we have to truck all of that produce out of the valley to get packed boxed and shipped,” said Gina Dockstader, Co-owner of Doc’s Organics.
With 630 acres of citrus trees, having to outsource packaging has not always been ideal.
“Currently we have to send to four different packing houses, once again it’s organic so it needs to be pack with an organic line and it just made sense, why don't we keep some of this money in the valley instead? Why don't we start packing our own fruit,” explained Dockstader.
“The organic industry continues to grow; it has not reached its peak. If you go to stores like Costco you're going to see that there is more supply of organic products,” said Carlos Ortiz, Imperial County Agricultural Commissioner.
The valley does have a packing house in Calipatria that packs conventional citrus, but this will be the first packing facility for organic produce.
“There may be other companies outside Imperial County like San Diego or Riverside, maybe Arizona. They may want to bring their bulk citrus for packing locally,” added Ortiz.
“They’ve selected a site outside of Westmorland, California and it’s going to be a benefit to the county, creating jobs and adding to the value of our crop and branding in imperial county commodity,” said Ryan Kelley, Imperial County Supervisor, District 4.
Developers submitted for a loan request of 1.5 million dollars, the board approved a $500,000 loan. But an amendment can be requested at a later date.
“I’m really hoping that is up and running by August first, so we are really under the deadline, we really want to get it going for this particular season for when we have our fruit starting to come off. And as far as numbers of how much it’s going to bring in, that’s a good question,” explained Dockstader.