Phase One at Huerta del Valle community garden is now open!!! Woo hoo!!!
It has been a long, hard process to get where we are but now that there are gardeners working their own plots it’s worth it! Phase one consists of 15 family plots located right by the garden entrance. The 15 plots were given to community members that have not only been with HdV for significant amounts of time but have also actively participated in HdV meeting, events, and activities outside of the garden as well as in. These families- and now very much friends of HdV have helped with garden clean up days, assisted in/ with community meetings, walked neighborhoods with us spreading the word, made phone calls to get others involved, worked the compost heap, and many, many, more tasks.
While these gardeners take time to tend and care for their individual plots the work days continue for HdV members as we prep for Phase 2! If you are interested in having a garden plot of your own within HdV there are still many ways to help and get involved. We still have regular work days- check them out HERE and our monthly community meeting is coming up in a few weeks. Should you have any questions you can always contact Maria (Spanish) at 909-509-2996 or Arthur (English) at 917-734-8108 or feel free to email us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org
On Saturday, March 23rd HdV hosted its first community engagement workshop!! Having invited all of the members on our contact lists our goal was to build stronger relationships with those whom have shown interest in the project as well as keeping them updated on the progress we’ve made towards acquiring the land and the “side” projects we’ve been doing in the meantime to prep us for the real deal J
Thanks to the generous space provided by Pitzer College at the Ontario House, we were able to set up many tables that provided information about the community garden project, display our mini garden model to those who hadn’t seen it, showcase our lovely mini greenhouse in the backyard as well as our vermiculture start point. There was plenty of food for everybody, a DJ entertaining guests as they walked around, door prizes, and we even screened a mini film inside the house to those who were interested about food justice and community gardens in general. The event ended up being a BIG success for HdV!! And we hope to continue these community engagement workshops in the future to assure that the residents feel they are taking part in our development as well as to introduce the project to new community members.
Thank you SO VERY MUCH to everybody who worked hard in making this event possible and to all the Ontario residents who attended the event on Saturday.
Last Thursday the 21st of March Huerta del Valle had the privilege to attend the Labor Community Strategy Center and Bus Riders Union's book release of the Spanish translations of 7 Principles of Transformative Organizing and Playbook for Progressives by executive director Eric Mann. The event was an inspiration because hundreds of folks from around the Los Angeles area attended each bringing stories and experience from their struggles for justice. Huerta members learned a lot and got to pick up copies of the books to share with others in the garden. It was inspiring to see all of the people building community together.
On Monday, March 11th the city of Ontario generously hosted a community meeting on behalf of HdV for all of the residents surrounding or in close proximity to the garden area. This was an opportunity for HdV to once again meet with our future neighbors (those we hadn’t meet already) discuss what our intentions are, how we hope to implement our visions, and of course invite the community to actively participate in the process. However, it was also a night for the residents to voice any questions or concerns they might have about the garden, the upcoming construction, and future activity that might take place so close to their homes to city council members that were also in attendance.
Although the turn out was a bit on the lighter side the evening was still a big success to HdV as the residents that did join us that evening were enthusiastic and ready to get the project up and running. One resident stressed how much the area needed “something like this” while another even offered to donate some of his compost J and in addition to adult support there were even some youth representatives from the community ready to partner with us and see how they and other youths in the area can participate in our project development!
Having the community behind us definitely motivates us to keep going strong!
Throughout this last month as we were finalizing all the details of the land use agreement (and continued to wait on the city to grant us access to the land) we realized that if we didn’t start planting soon we were going to miss the planting deadlines for our Spring Harvest L But rather than cutting our losses and begin prepping for a bountiful Summer harvest as some organizations might have done- the HdV team sprung into action and decided to build a mini greenhouse to get all of our spring beans, squashes, tomatoes, and other seeds into “growth mode” and hopefully be thriving seedlings that we can transfer over to the garden once we get the city’s ok.
Thanks to a generous donation from Jesse Meisler- Abramson HdV was given a super cool, walk-in mini greenhouse that holds over 500 seedlings!!! For the last two weekends the whole team has been getting together to construct the greenhouse- that for the time being will hold residence at the Pitzer Ontario House. The greenhouse is made primarily of wood and plastic and is in great condition. On Saturday, March 9th with the help of many community and student volunteers- after hours of cutting, screwing, and figuring out how to use a staple gun without scaring the bejeezus of those holding the plastic sheets in place- the project was finally completed!
With our greenhouse set up and stable the team wasted no time to start planting. By mixing together special soil compounds to nourish our seeds (thanks to Arthur’s soil expertise) we filled hundreds of planting pots to grow various vegetables and ultimately meet our planting deadlines! Woo hoo! Now we will let nature work its magic with the seeds while we work hard to finalize the land use agreement with the city to hopefully have a permanent home for all of our growing seedlings in the coming weeks.
The entire HdV team would like to give BIG THANKS to Jesse Meisler- Abramson for the greenhouse donation, Pitzer College for allowing us the greenhouse space, all student and community volunteers, and anyone else who made this project possible.
On Wednesday March 6th the city of Ontario hosted its first HEAL Zone community meeting at the De Anza Park Community Center. This was the first of many opportunities that the residents of the HEAL Zone have to meet with city officials and voice their opinions about the changes they would like to see in their city. The members of HdV were at the event along with other HEAL grant recipients to demonstrate the programs we had to offer and to get a chance to listen to the community voices in response to what we were offering. While there the group participated with the Ontario residents in a creative art activity that had each table describe to a “reporter” what their ideal city would look like after the HEAL initiative had been in place for three years. Afterwards each table drew a rendition of their ideal city and demonstrated it to everybody in attendance. As each table of residents got up to share their visions and what they drew it was a very heartwarming experience to the HdV team to hear that many of the changes that the residents of Ontario were looking for were changes that HdV already hoped to implement through the introduction of the community garden (Or that HdV was already grounded on through implementation of our core values); such as community unity, access to fresh produce, harmony amongst neighbors, a drug free environment, and “safe spaces” accessible to all residents. Hearing the residents express interest of issues that HdV was already working on definitely brought smiles to our faces J Hopefully we will have made significant progress on these goals by the next community meeting.
Last Month the city of Ontario hosted the HEAL Zone grand opening and kick off event. We have been working with the HEAL initiative since the summer to get land access for our urban farm project. You can check out the video to see what types of plans the initiative has for healthy communities in Ontario. The city has committed to reducing calorie consumption, increasing healthy eating and active living. HdV is committed to working with community members for a healthier neighborhood!
PLUS... be on the look out for multiple HdV team member cameos!!! and even a close up of our mini garden model- sweet!