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Tuesday, Oct 15 2013 06:00 AM

Canadian grower setting up operation in Cummings Valley

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Workers use heavy equipment to prepare an area for the foundation of a planned, 32-acre hot house in Cummings Valley Thursday, Oct. 10. Gregory D. Cook / Tehachapi News

Workers use heavy equipment to prepare an area for the foundation of a planned, 32-acre hot house in Cummings Valley Thursday, Oct. 10. Gregory D. Cook / Tehachapi News

Workers use heavy equipment to prepare an area for the foundation of a planned, 32-acre hot house in Cummings Valley Thursday, Oct. 10. Gregory D. Cook / Tehachapi News

A new player on Tehachapi's growing agricultural roster is setting up to launch operations in Cummings Valley.

Calgary-based Sun Select Produce LP made an official announcement on Oct. 7, that it recently closed financing on 233 acres located on the northeast corner of Pellisier and Giraudo roads in Cummings Valley, which it will use to farm 32 acres of vegetables in greenhouses.

And while Reinhold Krahn, president and co-owner of the greenhouse vegetable company, said the Tehachapi project is not as large as the company's greenhouses in Canada, he is still excited about the venture.

"Our project in California is a modest greenhouse that is currently under construction and we are looking forward to becoming part of the farming community in California," Krahn said.

Based in Delta, British Columbia, Sun Select has been growing and exporting hothouse vegetables for more than 25 years, specializing in bell peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes.

"We chose Tehachapi because of the excellent climate for our greenhouse farming," Krahn said.

According to Krahn, the company expects to employ a few dozen workers in Tehachapi and will begin production sometime in fall of 2014.

Sun Select already has two other locations with 70 acres of greenhouses and 135 acres of land in Aldergrove and Delta, British Columbia, which it grows and distributes greenhouse vegetables to retailers across North America, including Thrifty Foods, Kroger Corp., Safeway (Canada/U.S.), Costco, Sams Club, Whole Foods and Supervalu.

As for the water the farming outfit will use, according to Tehachapi-Cummings County Water District General Manager John Martin, Sun Select will use imported State Water Project water from an eight-inch turnout adjacent to their property.

Martin was hoping the new grower would tap into the 500 acre-feet per year of disinfected tertiary recycled (DTR) water from the California Correctional Institution that is readily available, but because of Sun Select's "green carbon capture" growing process -- a procedure that allows pure CO2 that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere, to be delivered directly to growing vegetables -- the decision to use non-potable water is still undecided.

Meanwhile, Cummings Valley Protective Association President Joanne Huckins said their organization's main concern for any development in the area is that they are good stewards of the water.

"They fit right in with the zoning and since they are growing year round in a greenhouse they will use less water," she said. "Plus we will have the benefit of locally grown vegetables."

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