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They dump on farmers
Garbage bane of growers, rural residents
Almonds that were just knocked off the trees and waiting to be windrowed share space with a pile of garbage dumped by unknown perpetrators. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO

Dave Roorda was not a happy camper when he stopped by early Friday morning at his almond orchard on the corner of Woodward Avenue and North Union Road. He had just knocked down the nuts from the trees a few days ago, and the drying almonds are waiting to be windrowed.

But the Manteca-Ripon farmer found more than just a drying crop at his orchard. Dumped right next to the almonds on the ground was a pile of garbage strewn several yards across the front of the orchard facing Woodward Avenue. The pile included more than a dozen black garbage bags, a couple of five-gallon plastic pails, and a large blue tarp on top of which was a hodgepodge of trash. A couple of the black garbage bags had their sides torn, dislodging their contents which appeared to be sod or compost left over from a landscaping job.

“I was disgusted; I was just sick of it this morning. I was just irate,” was all Roorda could say after viewing the sorry scene.

Roorda has been farming this northwest corner of Woodward and Union Road for the last 20 years. The property was originally owned by Manteca businessman Jim Turner who later sold it to somebody else who then sold it to developer Mike Atherton who, in turn, later sold it to fellow developer Bill Filios. Roorda currently leases the property from Filios.

Garbage dumping is the bane of existence of many farmers and residents in rural areas everywhere, like south Manteca and outside of Ripon. If the garbage is dumped within their properties, it is their responsibility to clean it up and get rid of the eyesores which run the gamut – from twin and queen-size mattresses and discarded car tires to old doors and soiled diapers, broken recliners and sofas and even toilets. One almond farmer found an old white refrigerator standing in the middle of his orchard one day. A boat crammed with all kinds of trash, at one time, became an overstaying eyesore in front of an abandoned two-story house in rural south Manteca. Someone with an eye for repairing boats wanted to rescue the watercraft but found it beyond repair.

While garbage dumped within the farmer’s property is the owner’s responsibility, trash that is left on the side of the road is the responsibility of San Joaquin County. The demarcation line that determines if the garbage is on private property or on county road is the power pole. Anything on the side of the power pole facing the road is the responsibility of the county, which means these garbage piles have to be collected by the county. It’s a job that has been costing the county thousands of dollars, according to information from county officials in a story that ran in the Manteca Bulletin several years ago.

Roorda said perpetrators have also been dumping animals. They are usually contained in bags on the side of the road. But one can tell they are dead animals because “they’re smelly.” He came across one two days prior, and again on Friday morning.

Property owners who don’t pick up the roadside garbage that is on their property, and the county ends up doing the cleanup, are sent a bill by the county for doing the job.