Ontario is one of the many areas in the country that can be found on the United Sates Department of Agriculture online food desert locator. As defined by the USDA, the term "food desert" is used to describe a low-income area with limited access to large supermarkets or grocery stores. This phenomenon may manifest in a high concentration of liquor stores or convenience marts in an area, rather than marketsthat carry fresh produce or locally produced food.
PITZER IN ONTARIO STUDENTS:
Students from Pitzer College, located in Claremont, 8 miles northeast of Ontario, became interested in increasing access to good food in the area through the Pitzer in Ontario (PIO) program. Through this immersive, place-based program, Pitzer students study about local critical issues, from food justice to homelessness. Simultaneously, they intern with local individuals and organizations working for social justice, and conduct a semester-long community-based research project relevant to their internship sites. Students' passion and energy for food justice became applicable in the garden setting.
Susan Phillips, a professor of Environmental Analysis and academic director of the PIO program, saw both the growing energy around food justice among the student body at Pitzer and the very real need around food access in Ontario as an opportunity for creation.
LOCAL COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS:
Fresh Start is a local faith-based non-profit located at Linda Vista Elementary in Ontario. The organization collaborated with Susan Phillips and PIO students to start the garden's first location at Linda Vista.
The Incredible Edible Community Garden is Mary Petit's non-profit organization. We work with them in the new site at New Frontier Family Farms.
María Theresa is a resident of Samoa Village in Ontario, CA, a teacher for Pitzer's Spanish Practicum in the Community class, and the Huerta del Valle garden manager. She is committed to working on this project because she sees the direct benefits. As a mother, she observes the benefits on her family's mental and physical health. On a larger scale, she recognizes the positive effects the garden has in building community.
The gardeners at Huerta del Valle are residents of the area and their children. The De Anza Community Center's walking club has transformed into a garden club, bringing together families and future leaders in a safe, healthful activity. Norma, Jesus, Elizabeth, Manual, Juan, Raúl, and their children are remarkably dedicated to maintaining this every-changing, transformative learning environment for themselves and their community.