Mission Produce Teamed up with Businesses to Promote Hands-on Learning at Ventura College
- by Chandler James
OXNARD, CA - I know Millennials didn't invent avocados, but if anyone represents the fruit, it’d be us. Mashed, spread, or, sliced, we just can’t get enough. I’d imagine the students of Ventura College were overjoyed when Mission Produce announced its plan to plant an avocado grove there. The company teamed up with Halter-Encinas Enterprises, Coast Water Solutions, Brokaw Nursery, and Quality Ag to complete the project in hopes of inspiring an interactive learning environment, advancing academic research, and attracting students to careers in agriculture.
“Ventura County is a close-knit and productive agriculture community,” said Vice President of Global Sourcing, Keith Barnard. “When students see and interact with the avocado learning lab, we know they’ll get excited about our industry.”
Barnard joined the Ventura College Foundation Board in 2018 and played a key role in spearheading this project. The nearly one-acre plot houses over a hundred, year-old Hass avocado trees, which were planted on berms to encourage proper drainage. Additionally, the trees are fed water and fertilizer via an efficient and controlled irrigation system.
“The partnership between Ventura College, the Ventura College Foundation, and Mission Produce is a perfect example of ways educational entities can collaborate with innovative companies in our community,” said City of Ventura Mayor and Ventura College Foundation Board Member, Matt LaVere. “This new avocado learning lab, along with the college’s commitment to agricultural education, will provide students the training and experience necessary to obtain highly-successful careers in our local agricultural sector."
Under the leadership of faculty and program director, Dr. Dorothy Farias, Ventura College’s agriculture program currently serves 20 students, but the goal is to increase class offerings and boost enrollment. Now that the project is complete, students in the Department will oversee and nurture the land.
“This hands-on experience will give our students the freedom to learn in a practical way. We are grateful for the companies’ donations and eagerness to develop these types of programs on our campus and create a new pipeline of potential employees for the local ag industry,” said Farias.
Resources on Ventura College’s new avocado orchard were not spared, as it features innovative techniques that mimic the company’s advanced farming practices.
“Ventura College is grateful to have industry partners like Mission Produce to ensure our students have the opportunity to learn in an environment that meets current industry standards,” said Ventura College’s President, Dr. Kim Hoffmans.
Mission’s donated grove will no doubt have a huge impact on the students who work with it, setting all of us up with a group of future produce purveyors. The Ventura College ag program is making me seriously reconsider this whole “writing” thing. But, I digress. Keep up with us at ANUK as we narrate the story of produce.