Dustin Moore, co-founder of Boca Del Rio breaks ground alongside City of Mendota officials on a new marijuana grow in the city. Photo by Edward Smith
Growers and government officials gathered Thursday to break ground on a new kind of agricultural product for Western Fresno County — cannabis.
Owners of Laguna Beach-based Boca Del Rio Farms held a press event to showcase 59 acres of land in Mendota that would be dedicated to growing recreational marijuana.
The operation would be the first major outdoor grow in Central California and one of the largest in the state, said Dustin Moore, co-founder of Boca Del Rio.
The first plants would be brought in June 1 for a growing season lasting through October, Moore said.
Boca Del Rio will hire around 80 people locally for both seasonal and full-time positions.
Moore estimates that the project will net Mendota more than $1 million in direct revenue.
The land previously owned by the City of Mendota had been unused for a number of years. It took over three years to get the project approved.
Moore said the California Environmental Quality Act process alone took 1 1/2 years, analyzing not just environmental impacts but also anthropological and social impacts.
Mendota Mayor Rolando Castro said the project’s security plan alleviated his concerns about public safety near the operation.
The fields will be protected using multiple layers of high fences, including one electric fence and 24-hour armed guards.
This is the first grow operation of its kind for Boca Del Rio, which Moore described will take a “farm-to-fork” approach, selling the product locally.
Boca Del Rio operates a number of dispensaries under the Embarc brand.
Moore said he had worked in getting the 2016 Proposition 64 passed, which legalized marijuana in California.
A lack of legal grows fuels the illicit market, said Moore. A “farm-to-fork” approach will cut costs for consumers because less marijuana has to be imported from places such as Humboldt County.
Processing would also be done in Mendota and the company looks to assemble steel structures in the future to help with processing marijuana flower.
Castro said a lot of deliberation went into choosing the right company. Five years ago, another cannabis proposal was made and he opposed it “because the business model made no sense to me.”
This isn’t Mendota’s first foray into the legal cannabis industry. In 2018, a cannabis business park broke ground in Mendota. The developer, Canna-Hub based out of Roseville, converted a 100,000-square foot facility into nine spaces for cannabis businesses.