UC Cooperative Extension Response Regarding Faulkner Farm Pumpkin Patch

The following is from the University of California Cooperative Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Ventura County issued last month in response to the Santa Paula Rotary announcement that the 2014 Faulker Farm Pumpkin Patch in Santa Paula has been cancelled. Learn more about UCCE Agriculture and Natural Resources Ventura County at ceventura.ucanr.edu.

10 Facts about UC Hansen Agricultural Research and Extension Center (UC HAREC) and the Pumpkin Patch at Faulkner Farm

What is UC Hansen Agriculture Research and Extension Center?

Established in 1997 through an endowment set up by Thelma Hansen, UC HAREC is one of the University of California’s nine Research and Extension Centers. UC HAREC performs agricultural research and has crop and tree demonstration areas. Crops are also grown for farm field trips through which students learn where their food comes from, and there are demonstration gardens for students and visitors.

What is UC’s relationship to the Faulkner Farm Pumpkin Patch?

Since purchasing the property in 1997, UC allowed the Ayers’ (original owners) pumpkin patch to continue operation during its first year and then worked with Litchfield Farms from 1998 through 2005 on a pumpkin patch that included educational programs during the week for school children. In 2006, Litchfield Farms did not renew their lease and in the winter of 2007 the Rotary Club of Santa Paula submitted a proposal to run the pumpkin patch.

Will there be a Rotary Club of Santa Paula pumpkin patch at HAREC this year?

We are still waiting to hear from the Rotary Club of Santa Paula on whether or not they want to use HAREC for their pumpkin patch. They have until May 30 to decide if our facility meets their requirements and let us know.

Have we limited the pumpkin patch to one acre?

No. We are currently expanding our agricultural research and educational offerings including new partnerships with the Ventura Unified School District/Food Corps program and additional countywide academic-year school field trips, which require more acreage. This expansion limits the amount of land available to the pumpkin patch. The UC HAREC is in the process of finalizing the long-term research project requests. Once projects are awarded we may be in a position to offer additional space.

Is this the first year a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) has been requested for the pumpkin patch?

No. The University of California made Santa Paula Rotary Club aware of a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) requirement when they assumed control of the pumpkin patch in 2007 as a fundraising event for their club. The University of California reiterated the need for the club to obtain a CUP for the Rotary Club’s pumpkin patch from the County in 2010 and in 2012. We simply cannot assume all liability for their event.

What is a Conditional Use Permit (CUP)?

A conditional use permit (CUP) allows a city or county to consider special uses that may be essential or desirable to a particular community, but which are not allowed as a matter of right within a zoning district. A conditional use permit can provide flexibility within a zoning ordinance.

Are there other pumpkin patches in the county?

Yes! While we understand that many community members have long memories of the Faulkner Farm pumpkin patch, over the years Ventura County has been fortunate to add a wide variety of pumpkin patches throughout the county. Here is a 2013 list from the Conejo Valley Guide of a variety of pumpkin patches offered by our local Ventura County farmers. 2013 Pumpkin Patches in Ventura County www.conejovalleyguide.com/welcome/pumpkin-patches-in-ventura-county-and-adjacent-areas.html

Agritourism can be a real boon to small farmers and can even help keep them in business during hard times, like the drought that we are currently experiencing.

My family/kids enjoyed visiting the Faulkner Farm, may we still do so?

Absolutely. In fact, on Thursday, May 8th , HAREC opened to the public all day for the CE 100 Year Celebration - Day of Science and Service. ceventura.ucanr.edu/ANR_Centennial_/

What other events/activities are typically held at HAREC?

Check out our calendar of events for more information at ceventura.ucanr.edu/?calendar=yes&g=63579

A sampling of typical events, programs and/or activities at HAREC include 4-H Youth Field Trips every Tuesday and Thursday, FoodCorps Student Farm Project, Master Gardener Workshops, Sustainability Camp for Youth and many more.

More on UC HAREC at ucanr.edu/sites/hansenagcenter.