Huerta del Valle is an oasis, community garden, and refuge for those who live and work under high-stress conditions in a food desert. FARM BLITZ aims to change those conditions with marketing and distribution workshops focused on taking urban farms and community gardens to the next level, and playing a more active role in local economies. FARM BLITZ takes place at the Pitzer College community hub, Casa Ontario.

Huerta’s roots trace to 2010, when Ontario resident Mario Alonso was searching for an affordable way to get organic produce for her son, after his doctor told her it would help address his ADHD. But it turned out that organic produce was prohibitively expensive. And she had to drive ten miles to buy it.

In collaboration with the Pitzer College community engagement initiative Pitzer in Ontario, Maria was able to bring together a small group of neighbors to grow their own produce on a tiny piece of public school land. These beginnings have become Huerta del Valle, a thriving four-acre community garden and farm under the leadership of Maria and recently-graduated Pitzer in Ontario Urban Fellow Arthur Levine.

The Huerta folks are now producing a thousand pounds of high-quality organic produce each week, but they are only selling about half of it. They want to sell more and eventually become a “Food Hub” or clearinghouse to collaborate with other local community agriculture sites. They aim for the income from their sales to support outreach and education programs and the overhead to run the farm. They’d also like to be able to pay their most dedicated volunteer farmers.

What makes FARM BLITZ an ideal Pando Hub event is that it’s a holistic response to a big challenge, working for change at a specific location . It addresses issues of social justice, jobs, nutrition, education, community, localism, agriculture, and the environment. Best of all, it explores models that other stressed out communities can emulate.

FARM BLITZ is a Huerta del Valle/Pando Hubs collaboration with Pitzer in Ontario to help build our local food system.