Maria Alonso In September 2014, Maria Teresa Alonso found herself celebrated at a regional health collaborative meeting in San Bernardino. People cheered for her work in organizing the Huerta del Valle community garden, and for her commitment to local food and health. Someone in the audience said they wished there could be a whole room full of Marias—a room full of Marias might make change in our region possible. Maria’s leadership has grown in concert with Huerta del Valle and in response to her family’s health challenges. Huerta del Valle was the result when her son’s ADHD and her husband’s diabetes drove her to seek healthy food, only to find it miles from her community and at a prohibitive price. Maria started Huerta del Valle with a handful of Pitzer College students, 10 Ontario families, and a will for change. She built what is now a thriving, 62-family community garden, urban farm, and tax-exempt nonprofit for which she is now executive director. Little by little, she says, she is learning—English, computer skills, what it means to lead with heart. She thinks, “If I can do this, you can too. If they can do it over there, I can do it here too.” She is passing on this confidence, drive and values to other members of her community through innovative programming and the vision of “a garden every mile” for her community and others in the region. Huerta del Valle, Maria says, is about growing leaders and a community as well as food.
Susan Phillips Susan A. Phillips has studied gangs and the US prison system since 1990. Phillips received her Ph.D. in anthropology in 1998 from UCLA, where she taught for four years before coming to Pitzer College. Her first book, Wallbangin: Graffiti and Gangs in L.A., was published by the University of Chicago Press in 1999. Her second book,Operation Fly Trap: Gangs, Drugs, and the Law, was published in July 2012, also by Chicago. Phillips was named a Soros Justice Media Fellow in 2008, and received a Harry Frank Guggenheim research grant in 2005 to fund her fieldwork. Previous to that she was a fellow at the Getty Research Institute from 1996-1997, during the scholar year on Los Angeles. Phillips is interested in theories of violence, in the relationship between gangs and the state, and in utilizing academic writing and scholarship toward criminal justice reform. She currently directs community-based research programs in Ontario, California for Pitzer College and is a member of the Environmental Analysis field group, where she contributes curriculum on urban studies.
Arthur Levine Has been working in urban and community agriculture since 2008. Originally starting as a student in New York City he built a strong knowledge of community gardening and the necessary organizing required to not only start them, but maintain them. From 2008-2011 Levine worked summers organizing youth service learning trips to New Orleans to learn and educate about the systemic racial and environmental justice challenges from the events of hurricane Katrina and the recovery/revitalization process. Spending extended time at Our School at Blair grocery, a Growing Power ROTC, Levine was not only able to train in sustainable urban agriculture, but was also able to learn how urban farming can be applied as a tool for education, public health, economic development, and organizing. Levine studied at Pitzer College and graduated in 2014 with a degree in Neuroscience and while finishing he BA also collaborated with Pitzer in Ontario, Maria, Alonso, and the city of Ontario to launch Huerta del Valle. Arthur's work at HdV has resulted in the large urban composting operation, the development of a working urban farm, the development of the community garden and he is currently working with a team to develop educational programming at the farm.
Rebecca Hoggarth Rebecca is a University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardner, Master Food Preserver, California Naturalist and Certified Project Learning Tree Facilitator, San Bernardino County. She has worked with and for elected officials at the city, county, state and federal levels of government on constituent services, policy and community outreach. Her non profit experience includes fundraising, policy work, administration, volunteer recruitment and coordination. Her education includes studies in Public Administration and Public Relations at the University of Southern California.
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Our mission is to cultivate an organization of community members to grow our own organic crops. Through growing our food we work toward sustainable community empowerment and health: creating meaningful work, building lasting skills and developing strong relationships within the city of Ontario. “Growing change in the Inland Valley."