Since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, the Inland Empire has lost a lot of its agricultural land to urban development. A growing population and a booming shipping industry, along with the IE's proximity to Los Angeles' ports resulted in a loss of land that used to be dedicated to farming. The loss has become so significant that many people in low income areas no longer have easy access to affordable, healthy produce.
Fortunately, our good friends at Huerta del Valle Community Garden (HDV) have come up with a solution. The Inland Empire is full of small pockets of unwanted lots, land under power lines, and other undevelopable land, and HDV wants to use those lots to develop small urban farms to provide healthy, fresh food to residents of the Inland Empire. IERCD helps them acquire land and funds for their projects. To continue developing these farms and connecting the food with residents who need it, HDV needs more staff.
IERCD has secured funding through the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) to fund a new staff member for HDV and IERCD! The newly hired coordinator will run HDV's Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Program. The CSA Program connects local farmers with HdV too pool produce for inclusion in the "Affordable Food Box" Program, a program targeted towards low income families. At least 50% of the programs members must come from low-income families and at least 20% use food stamps to purchase food within the CSA Program.
The Coordinator's primary job of connecting farmers to HdV provides an additional benefit. Some of the produce from local farmers cannot be sold to the farmers' regular customers. This produce is usually thrown away or, at best, turned into compost. But with the new CSA program, this perfectly good produce can be "gleaned" and added to the affordable food boxes.
In addition to coordinating the Affordable Food Box Program and connecting local farmers, the Coordinator will also organize a series of workshops both for residents of the Inland Empire and local farmers and producers. Resident workshops will be focused on healthy eating, cooking, and proper nutrition. The farmers' workshops, meanwhile, will focus on a number of important agricultural topics including water issues and management, integrated pest management (IPM), mulch, and composting. These workshops will also be able to take advantage of IERCD's partnership with NRCS and utilize its staffs vast technical knowledge and resoures of its staff to further enhance the benefits of this program.
IERCD is so excited to see how this program grows in the coming months. Stay up to date on this and other projects by following us on Facebook and Instagram and signing up for our newsletter on our Website.