One of the major projects we have going on at the site these days is creating a massive heap of compost that will provide gardeners with fertile soil to grow their produce. We started our "compost plan" almost immediately after the land use agreement was finalized (April 5th) in order to get going on this timely project. Compost generally will take about six months to reach its full potential... so working on preparing the compost before the garden is open to the public is a must! Earlier this month the HdV crew and many volunteers built a compost structure on the site and have since been "working" the compost heap almost daily to ensure that it is mixed and rotated properly while given ample time to bake in the sun.
At HdV we have been extremely fortunate in receiving support from local grocery markets and other businesses with our composting efforts. Keeping our compost organic is a must for HdV so we pack our compost with tons of fruit, vegetables, woodchips, and spent grains that businesses such as Brog Produce, Carniceria del Valle 909- 984-5056, Claremont Craft Ales, Inland Empire Regional Compost Authority, La Verne Brewing Co., and California Arbor Care have generously donated for our cause. As we continue our composting efforts we are reminded that compost is essentially the base of all things that will grow in the garden and therefore would like to send HUGE THANKS to all the businesses and volunteers who have helped with this mega project
As the HdV family continues to grow through increasing our business relationships and the number of new members at our weekly meetings or site clean up days we thought this would be a good time to take a moment to reflect on our purpose in the Ontario community and the vision we have for the garden.
After spending years interacting with the residents of Central Ontario, the members of HdV realized how much the residents wanted healthier eating choices among other changes in their area and consequently what little options were available to them. The city of Ontario is currently recognized as a USDA “food desert”- an area in the United States with limited access to affordable and nutritious food, particularly an area composed of predominantly lower-income neighborhoods and communities.
However, making fresh produce or nutritious food available to the Ontario residents was going to take much more than just building up new supermarkets or stocking the current market shelves with industrial agricultural products. As local and global communities have begun to understand the environmental, social, and political consequences that result from industrial farming practices (pesticides, GMO’s for example) many are turning to an alternative form of agriculture- particularly local community based sustainable agriculture. It is here that HdV plans to make a huge impact. By offering the residents of Ontario a communal space that will provide compost, seeds, water, the use of gardening equipment and working to build a sustainable urban farming operation HdV hopes to enable families to grow their own fresh, organic produce in an area where many could otherwise not have access to it because of economic or various other social practices.
But HdV doesn’t plan to stop there! HdV would like to see the garden turn in to so much more than just a community space where families can grow fresh fruits or vegetables. We would like the garden to be a ‘safe space’ for building communal ties and strengthening neighborhood relationships; a place for social interaction, community support, artistic expression and change making. By introducing an educational area we hope to encourage the young people to take interest in food justice, the alternative food movement, and recognize where the produce they are consuming is coming from and begin to create and practice local solutions to global challenges. Overall we hope that the garden can be a starting point that can help the residents of Ontario reclaim their agency in providing their community with the physical and emotional health that all communities deserve.
Like any organization that's just starting out we find it thrilling to be on site each day as the project continues to unfold before our eyes... while at the same time it's a little nerve wrecking to realize that we are in need of so much "stuff" (operational items and equipment). If you or anybody you know could help us out we could definitely use donations of...
-hoses, shovels, gloves, and pots
Or if you would like to help HdV through a monetary donation check out our donation lik on the right sideof the blog or simply CLICK HERE. Make sure to select "Designation: Other" and type "Huerta del Valle" when you donate. For all other donation inquiries please contact Maria Alonso (Spanish) at (909) 509-2996 or Arthur Levine (English) at (917) 734-8108. THANKS!
Throughout the long journey of having an idea, developing a strategy, working with city, and countless other tasks that had to be completed before the land lease agreement was finalized HdV has been lucky enough to have a small but totally committed group of people who have supported, encouraged, and motivated each other along the way. On Sunday, April 20th we all got together at the garden site to celebrate not only the finalized land lease agreement but also to capture the significance of such a milestone and what it means to all of us.
Rounding up at 10am the group embraced the beauty of the nature around our site by sitting in a circle on the grass of our neighbor's lawn- Bon ViewPark. We went around having each member share what their vision of the garden was or what they hope it would be once the residents started planting. Spanish and English conversation flowed effortlessly as well as tears and laughter while we sang a song, listened to a poem, and performed a group activity. It was a very heartwarming and spiritual afternoon as we took time to connect more to each other and more importantly the land. After walking around the site and getting a chance to feel the dirt run through our fingers we all enjoyed lunch in the shade as we continued to share our experiences and more importantly our joy in celebrating the fruits of our labor.
As the work days continue so does our progress on the land. Last week we were able to set up our composting structure to begin our composting efforts that will help nourish the plants in the garden. In order to complete the structure we needed plenty of wood pallets and lots of hands ready for digging- luckily we had both with HdV members and teen volunteers from the Dorothy Quesada Center and Ontario High School Key Club J Our compost consists of all natural products that otherwise would have been thrown out and woodchips that were generously donated from local merchants like Carniceria del Valle and California Arbor Care. Having the compost station up and running is great news because composting takes many months so this will allow us to multitask while we continue to clean and start construction on the site. BIG THANKS to all community volunteers and Pitzer students who came out and helped with this effort.