Ventura Farms


Ventura Farms, Thousand Oaks, CA
Ventura Farms is a private residence in Thousand Oaks, CA with a conservatory of 14,000 square feet and a production greenhouse of 24,000 square feet.

This Rough Brothers design project was conceived in August 2000, and ground broken in June 2001. Rough Brothers was working onsite August 2001, with completion of the project in April 2002. The total duration of the Ventura Farms project was 20 months.

Closer Look
Contract Scope
  • Design and Engineering
  • Structure and Glazing
  • Shade Systems
  • Special Tiered Display Benches
  • In-Floor Heat
  • Perimeter Fin Tube Heat
  • Boilers
  • Fog Systems
  • R.O. Water System
  • Environmental Control System
Inside View
The Ultimate Hobby House (Article Excerpt From GrowerTalks Magazine)

What plant person hasn't dreamed of having the ultimate hobby greenhouse in their backyard -- a place to relax and enjoy flowers and plants without the distractions of business? Stop dreaming, because the ultimate house has now officially been built. Anything you build will be small potatoes.

Or maybe we should say bananas, because the ultimate backyard greenhouse was built by David H. Murdock, chairman of Dole Foods.  His recently completed conservatory and greenhouse cost in excess of $5 million and covers just under an acre. That's more than $130 per square foot.

 Mr. Murdock, an orchid enthusiast for some 30 years, decided he needed a greenhouse for them at his California ranch, Ventura Farms. A greenhouse would be a nice spot to do some entertaining, as well.

What started out as plans for a modest 20 ft. by 30 ft. orchid house are a 14,000 sq. ft. conservatory and a 24,000 sq. ft. Venlo-style production greenhouse for raising flowers and vegetables for the ranch.

Rough Brothers of Cincinnati, Ohio, built both structures. (Rough also recently completed the restoration of the U.S. Botanic Garden Conservatory). Most spectacular is the conservatory, which serves as home for Mr. Murdock's collection of 20,000 orchids, and as a ballroom for entertaining. Imported marble was carefully cut and numbered, then laid in place so it again resembles one solid piece. Crystal chandeliers provide mood lighting for special events. Wings off the ballroom house the orchid collection on custom-built tiered benches.

Inside View
The production house will be used to grow color for the ranch, along with fruits and vegetables for Mr. Murdock's personal use. In addition, they'll use it to showcase nutritional research that he funds through various universities. The ballroom is large enough to host conferences.

It takes a special person to run such a facility, that's Mike Owen, conservatory manager. Mike comes from a 24-year stint with Longwood Gardens, where he started as a student in 1975. He started consulting on the project in 1999, blending the technical and aesthetic aspects of the design. Mike says that, while they've only had plants in the facility since about May 1, he can already tell it creates a beautiful growing environment. "It's going to be spectacular."

(Oh, these giant stones? They weigh up to 80 tons each and were dug by hand from the river Kwai. Not your ordinary garden accent.)

-Chris Beytes

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