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Rancho Santa Fe

Foundation has plans for Ranch; deal not yet closed

ENCINITAS — Some details about possible uses for portions of the Ecke Ranch are starting to surface even though the deal for the property is not yet complete.The Leichtag Foundation, a Carlsbad-based nonprofit organization signed an option agreement in April to purchase the property.

Once the deal has been completed (the deal is expected to close before year’s end) the Leichtag Foundation will own the entire 67-acre (850,000 sq. feet) property.

The Foundation did announce two programs that would soon begin on the Ranch: the Jewish urban farming program focusing on sustainable farming practices, Jewish environmental education and service learning, and the launch of a related program, the JFJF (Jewish Food Justice Fellowship.)

“The Foundation is working in concert with Urban Adamah, an organization based in Berkeley, (Calif.) to establish an urban farm at the Ecke Ranch site,” said Jim Farley, president and CEO of the Leichtag Foundation. “JFJF Fellows will be actively engaged with activities at the farm. There are many elements of the program that are similar to those of the Future Farmers of America.”

The Fellows selected for the program will live on the Ranch.

Farley said there would be no new construction for the program, which is also consistent with the existing zoning, and added that all of the structures on the property have significant deferred maintenance that they will be addressing as they move forward.

Over the next three years a portion of the premises will be leased to the Agribio Group, a Dutch-based company that purchased most of the Paul Ecke Ranch assets related to the operating company and will continue the breeding and development of poinsettias that the Ecke Ranch had been conducting on the grounds.

The deal between Ecke Ranch and Agribio was completed Oct. 1. “These assets include the operating business, genetics, brand names, products, inventory,” said Andy Higgins, CEO of Ecke Ranch, Inc. “The assets also included company facilities in Guatemala and Europe.”

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

The portion of land that will be used by Agribio is relatively small, said Farley. “It’s…around 10 percent or so.”

While details between the Leichtag Foundation and Ecke Ranch are still being worked out, any maps or drawing up of the land is still confidential.

Farley said they do have a “very precise understanding” of how the property lines will break down. “There’s a lot of infrastructure on the property still connected with the use of their property, for example a couple of barns, some storage facilities…it’s sort of a complicated schedule,” Farley said.

Farley also said the Foundation is exploring a “number of other ideas for the site.”


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