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Future of Urban Food Systems Conference Coming to Orange County in November; Early Bird Tickets Available

August 22, 2016 |
grow local oc conference future of urban food systems orange county

The Grow Local OC: Future of Urban Food Systems Conference takes place on November 10 – 11, 2016 at California State University, Fullerton.

Early Bird Special Tickets are now available for a limited time for the Grow Local OC: Future of Urban Food System Conference presented by Seedstock in partnership with the Orange County Food Access Coalition.  The conference  is slated for Nov. 10 – 11, 2016 at California State University, Fullerton in Orange County (Hosted by U-ACRE). It will focus on the community and economic development potential of urban food systems efforts across southern California and the country to improve food access and health outcomes, connect people to their food, and create new jobs and business opportunities by employing innovative business models and farming systems of the future.

Below are additional details on the two-day conference.

Day 1: Conference Day (Nov. 10, 2016):

Attendees will convene at the Portola Pavilion on the campus of California State University, Fullerton in Orange County, CA for a series of panels and keynotes that will address such topic areas as the importance of local food systems development for cities, the economic potential of indoor agriculture, the expansion of the local food marketplace, urban farming and local food access, community gardens and farms, and more.

Read More

5 Riverside Restaurants Supporting Local Food and Farmers

July 5, 2016 |
Salted Pig in Riverside sources as much local food as it can to serve to patrons.

Rinaldo Fierro, owner of The Salted Pig discussing local food in Riverside. (Photo courtesy of Salted Pig)

Demand for local food in Riverside is growing as a result of awareness building initiatives like GrowRIVERSIDE helping to foster a robust local food system, support for weekly farmers’ markets that allow community members to connect with and purchase local produce from farmers. The fruits, and vegetables, of the growing local food movement in Riverside have also made their way onto restaurant menus across the county. So, if you live in the region, or plan on visiting, read on to discover 5 Riverside restaurants that are dedicated to supporting and serving food raised by local farmers.

Blackburn’s Farm-to-Table – Corona

Chef Bill Blackburn, the chef at Blackburn’s Farm-to-Table, wants to give everyone that comes into his restaurant the real-deal, farm-to-table experience. Everything Blackburn puts on the restaurant’s menu is in-season and comes from local growers in Riverside County and the broader Southern California region. Read More

Four Inland Empire Community Garden Programs Working to Make a Difference

June 30, 2016 |
The City of Perris Community Garden Demonstration Center. Photo courtesy of the City of Perris.

The City of Perris’s Green City Farm. Photo courtesy of the City of Perris.

Community-based agriculture is increasing across the Inland Empire(IE) as more community gardens and the programs related to them are being established. As outlined below, these efforts include many new farm plots where residents are growing their own food, learning new skills and gaining food system awareness. But the people establishing these gardens are going further than just turning bare dirt into growing grounds. They are implementing ancillary programs as well, thereby adding even greater value to their communities. Each of these various enterprises benefits their local cities and neighborhoods by increasing access to healthy and fresh foods, as well as providing employment, educational opportunities and a greater sense of community to everyone involved in their construction, day-to-day upkeep and expansion.

Incredible Edible Community Garden – Upland

A few years ago, Mary Petit and Eleanor Torres decided to tackle the problem of food insecurity in their local Upland area by working at a local community garden. Petit looked for an existing community garden with no success, so she and Torres began their own and named it the Incredible Edible Community Garden. Read More

Market Demand and Pest Problems Prompt Rialto, CA Citrus Grower with Deep Roots to Diversify Offering

June 28, 2016 |
John Adams of Adams Acres, a 109-year-old family farm in Rialto. Photo by Kate Edwards

John Adams of Adams Acres, a 109-year-old family farm in Rialto. Photo by Kate Edwards

John Adams has deep roots in the Rialto, California citrus grove known as Adams Acres. His great-grandmother bought the original 20 acres back in 1899, and his grandfather put in the orange grove in 1907. Adams, now 72 years old, has spent most of his life on this land, growing and tending to the last orange grove in an area that used to boast some 6,000 acres of commercial citrus.

Today, Adams is down to just two acres and change on which sits the original farmhouse, a century-old stone outbuilding and an antique tractor. Ten of the original 20 acres were sold off to developers in the 1970s, and just this year, Adams was forced to sell about three-quarters of the remaining land. He sold it to yet another developer who is planning to build, as he says drily, “a gated community of houses set three feet apart.”

Adams sold the land for financial reasons. The wholesale price for Valencias, the oranges used in most commercial juice production, has been depressed worldwide for decades due to fading demand coupled with the influx of cheap fruit from Brazil, Chile and South Africa. This means that the local packing house stopped purchasing his crop awhile ago, and the citrus sales at his roadside stand weren’t enough to make up the difference. Read More

From Humble Beginnings, Chino, CA-based Family Farm Emerges to Offer High Quality Healthy Produce to Families

June 23, 2016 |
Riverside, CA-based Gaytan Family Farm at the Vista Farmers' Market. Photo courtesy of Gaytan Family Farms.

Riverside, CA-based Gaytan Family Farm at the Vista Farmers’ Market. Photo courtesy of Gaytan Family Farm.

“Our goal is to teach other families how to eat healthy and bring them the best quality that we can – from our family to theirs,” says Maricela Gaytan of Chino, CA-based Gaytan Family Farm.

The Gaytan’s began growing produce more than 12 years ago to carry on a family farming tradition that had begun decades earlier in Mexico.

“Farming is in our blood,” says Maricela Gaytan. “It’s all family that works on the farm—cousins, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, all of us dedicate ourselves to farming.”

The family farm operation, which has since grown to encompass nearly 50-acres of farmland across multiple counties, emerged from humble beginnings in Mira Loma. Read More

6 Riverside County Farms Strengthening the Local Food System

June 13, 2016 |
Brian Griffith of Griffith Family Farm in Riverside, CA selling locally grown produce

Brian Griffith of Griffith Family Farm in Riverside, CA. Photo courtesy of Brian Griffith.

Riverside County, and the City of Riverside in particular, possesses a rich agricultural heritage dating back to the 19th century. However, in the 20th century as population growth fueled by families in search of affordable housing led to increased residential, industrial and commercial development the county’s agricultural roots, and production, began to fray. Lately, though, there has been a renaissance of sorts as local farmers strive to meet growing demand from local consumers. The GrowRIVERSIDE movement, through conferences and community-building efforts, has also helped to build awareness and interest in local food among Riversiders.

Below is a list of six Riverside County farms that produce a wide array of products for the local market ranging from oranges, goat’s milk and pastured lamb to value-added goods such as soaps and lotions. Read More

The Farmers Come out at Night in Riverside

June 7, 2016 |
The Magnolia Center Marketplace, Riverside’s first nighttime farmers’ market in more than 10 years, celebrated its grand opening on May 20. (photo courtesy Kathi Foster)

The Magnolia Center Marketplace, Riverside’s first nighttime farmers’ market in more than 10 years, celebrated its grand opening on May 20. (photo courtesy Kathi Foster)

If you can’t grab your locally grown, farm fresh Riverside produce during normal daytime hours, don’t fret. There’s a new market in town, and it’s open after hours.

This new night market, Magnolia Center Marketplace, is the brainchild of Rico and Rheiana Alderette, owners of downtown Riverside-based MADE, which sells furniture, vintage and handcrafted goods. MADE sponsors the market, which in addition to hosting a certified farmers’ market also features artisan and craft vendors.

“A Friday night market is great for both consumers and farmers,” says Rico Alderette.

Kathi Foster, produce manager for the Friday evening (and morning) Riverside Certified Farmers’ Market, agrees.

“Some people wanted a non-morning market,” she says. “It’s easier for some customers.” Read More

“Grow Local OC” Conference in Orange County, CA to Examine Future of Urban Food Systems

June 2, 2016 |

grow local oc conference future of urban food systems orange county(Orange County, CA) – Grow Local OC: The Future of Urban Food Systems, slated for Thursday and Friday, November 10-11, 2016, will explore innovative urban food system developments underway in Orange County and cities across the country that increase the supply of locally grown food in the marketplace, tackle food poverty and access challenges, improve health outcomes, and support entrepreneurship in urban and indoor farming.

On day one of the conference attendees will convene at the Titan Student Union at California State University, Fullerton for a series of panels and keynotes that will explore a variety of topics, including: Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Urban Food Production; Expanding Local Food Access; Building a Regional Food System Infrastructure; The Confluence of Food System and Community Development; and more. Read More

For Riverside, CA Food Co-op ‘Local is Micro-local’

May 31, 2016 |
Al Centro mini produce stand, operated by the Riverside Food Co-op, provides locally-grown fruits and vegetables to Riverside residents. (photo courtesy Alannah Leblanc/Riverside Food Co-op)

Al Centro mini produce stand, operated by the Riverside Food Co-op, provides locally-grown fruits and vegetables to Riverside residents. (photo courtesy Alannah Leblanc/Riverside Food Co-op)

The most important word for the Riverside Food Co-op (RFC) is “local.” Its definition can be broad, but for Nick Melquiades, RFC core team operations manager, “local” has a very specific meaning.

“For us, local is micro-local,” Melquiades says. “Ninety-five percent of our produce comes from within 25 miles of downtown Riverside.”

The RFC formed in 2011 in response to the recession in Riverside, has eventual plans to open a store. Not having a physical retail location to sell local produce, however, has not prevented it from playing an outsize role in local food system development in the City of Riverside. Read More

Ontario Community Garden Offers Hope and Health to Neighborhood in Need

May 24, 2016 |
Photo Courtesy of Huerta del Valle Community Garden.

Photo Courtesy of Huerta del Valle Community Garden.

Huerta del Valle Community Garden is a thriving community garden that offers hope and a source of fresh, healthy produce to residents of an Ontario neighborhood struggling with high concentrations of poverty, obesity and food access.

The garden took shape in 2010 when former Pitzer student Morgan Bennett organized local community members to create a garden on the site of a former elementary school. Today, 62 area families have plots in the garden and often sell the wide variety produce that they grow to community members.

Arthur Levine, who currently works as farm manager at Huerta del Valle Community Garden, would like to see the community garden model that has been established here replicated.

“Our interest would be to see that the whole city has gardens like this one,” says Levine. “We want to see one garden every mile. Each garden would be part of everyone’s life in some way.” Read More