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Ripon Unified updates farm production potential
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RIPON - Ripon farmer David Phippen went before the Ripon Unified School District Board of Trustees last week asking permission to put funds earned from the school farm back into upgrading and replanting the acreage at a projected cost of $63,000.

The orchard, located on the Clinton South property, was reviewed by the Ripon Ag Advisory Committee on Oct. 28 recognizing the decreasing production on Ranches #2 and #3.

Phippen said the ag committee wishes to redevelop the 15 acres on Ranch #3 during the present fiscal year and upgrade the 20 acres on Ranch #2 in the next fiscal year.  He noted that Ranch #1 was reconfigured about 11 years ago.

He said they want to use some of the existing funds to buy young almond trees and fumigant with Ranch #3 being replanted in January.  The trees on Ranch #2 would be removed and the land would be dry farmed.

Phippen noted that a section of the farm had been targeted for a new school which had delayed any improvements to the farm.  But with the downturn in the economy it is now imperative that the acreage be put into production to turn a profit from the land.  

“With the growth and housing slower, it will be a lot longer before a school is built on that property,” he added.

“We do have adequate funds to go forward,” Phippen said.  “All the labor to manage the farms is donated.”

 Farmers in the area have long stood behind the school farm activity, he noted.

Burchell Nursery has offered to donate all the trees and the sprinkler systems are also being donated and  installed by Nelson Rotator Sprinklers.  
“If we’re going to do it – we’re going to do it right,” the longtime almond farmer said.

The tree removal and cleanup is estimated to cost $4,300 for the 20-acre Ranch #2 with fumigation set at $16,000 for budget year 2011.  The irrigation parts and installation labor is expected to run $12,000.

The 15-acre Ranch #3 budgeted in 2010 will have fumigation costs of $9,000 with irrigation parts and installation labor at $9,000.

Donated labor includes tree removal and cleanup, roots/sticks cleanup labor, discing, backhoe for the tree sites and marking the field.

School board chairman Larry Stewart publicly thanked Phippen for his continued support of the school farm located in the rural area north of Ripon.