InlandEmpire.us

Resource Conservation District Receives National Funding In Support of Local Community Garden

Redlands, CA – The Inland Empire Resource Conservation District (IERCD), a special district of San Bernardino County, received funding through the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) to expand the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Program at Huerta del Valle Community Garden (HDV). IERCD is the only Resource Conservation District (RCD) in California to receive support through this grant and one of only nineteen RCD’s in the nation. HDV is a non-profit located in Ontario, CA that currently operates a 2.5 acre urban farm growing over 100 different crops which produces thousands of pounds of produce sold to local residents, restaurants, and markets at an affordable price.

Over the last few decades, the Inland Empire region has suffered from urban sprawl and a subsequent loss of agricultural land. In response, HDV has a mission to transform plots of undevelopable or otherwise vacant lots into small farms capable of producing healthy food for local community members. One of HDV’s programs, which they are currently expanding, is their low income CSA program. A CSA program connects local farmers with consumers to subscribe to a weekly box of fresh produce allowing families access to fresh food while supporting the farm’s operations. Through the NACD Urban Agriculture Conservation Grant Initiative, the IERCD secured funding to hire a full time CSA Coordinator to enroll families in HDV’s CSA Program and to expand the network of farmers participating in the CSA program. The Coordinator will also organize workshops on healthy cooking and nutrition so that CSA members become familiar with the various produce items in their CSA boxes and how to best utilize them in the kitchen to prepare healthy meals.

Workshops will also be offered to regional farmers to expand their knowledge on water management, integrated pest management, mulching, and composting. Oftentimes farmers have excess crops that are not harvested because market prices are too low or because crops are considered to be “blemished” by wholesale purchasers. The CSA coordinator will work with these farmers to glean excess produce to utilize in the CSA boxes instead of allowing the fresh produce to go to waste. This will also help keep prices of the CSA boxes relatively low so that they remain affordable for all community members.

The IERCD is excited to work with HDV in expanding this innovative new program to improve community access to fresh, affordable produce while supporting local farmers in distributing produce.

The IERCD is a public agency focusing on open space preservation, wildland rehabilitation, and education and outreach to residents throughout parts of San Bernardino and Riverside counties. To learn more about the IERCD and its programs, visit – iercd.org

To learn more about programs and workshops offered by Huerta del Valle Community Garden, visit – http://www.huertadelvalle.org/