UC ANR seeks new, larger property for Hansen Agricultural REC
After many years of discussion and on the recommendation of the Hansen Advisory Board, UC ANR has decided to sell the 27-acre historic Faulkner Farm in Santa Paula, the home of the Hansen Agricultural Research and Extension Center (HAREC) since 1997. The property went up for sale on Sept. 21, 2020. Bids are due in a closed bid process, as required by the Stull Act, by Nov. 17, 2020.
The mission of HAREC is to support and maintain University research and extension activities for the sustainability and benefit of agriculture and natural resources in Ventura County. To continue and expand efforts in support of the mission, proceeds from the sale will be used toward the purchase of a new property. UC is actively seeking 40 to 70 acres on the Oxnard Plain that will lend itself to the types of research most relevant for our area. We are also exploring potential areas of collaboration with California State University Channel Islands, which is expected to lead to synergies and long-term sustainability of education and research programs. An internal strategic planning process and expert panel review of the UC ANR Research and Extension Centers as well as local stakeholder surveys will inform the direction and scope of the future HAREC facility.
During the transition, UC Cooperative Extension will continue to operate out of the county government building on 669 County Square Drive in Ventura and critical research and education projects will continue.
The main impetus of the move is that acreage is limited on the Hansen REC site and the microclimate is not representative of the Oxnard plain, home to the highest-value agricultural commodities in Ventura County. Additionally, over time the costs of maintaining the historic buildings – the house is 126 years old and the large barn is 134 years old – became more of a financial burden than anticipated. Repairs are costly and modifications are difficult due to the restrictions for historic properties. These expenses reduce HAREC's ability to best serve Ventura County's agricultural sector and fulfill the wishes of Saticoy farmer Thelma Hansen, who left the University a sizable endowment to support research and extension for the benefit of Ventura County agriculture.
For many years, the HAREC site has supported a wide variety of agricultural and horticultural research projects, extension meetings, agricultural literacy programs and field trips for K-12 youth, and training of Master Gardener volunteers who maintain a beautiful demonstration garden as well as gardens around the historic home. The farm also has an extensive collection of avocado, citrus and cherimoya varieties as well as other tropical and subtropical fruit trees, such as mangoes, figs, bananas, guavas and papayas.
Despite the upheaval a move will create, UC ANR is committed to expanding and enhancing programs and opportunities for community participation at a new site.