When it comes to Orange Home Grown, our farmers market, and anything having to do with local food and the community, I’m all in. That being said, I’m excited to share that Chapman University has partnered with Orange Home Grown to create a new community education farm in Orange. Below are the official words and details on what’s happening!
Chapman University will launch a unique collaboration with the non-profit community group Orange Home Grown (OHG) to create a new community educational farm in the middle of Old Towne Orange. The farm, which will include a garden, orchard and vineyard, will serve as a platform for a plethora of educational activities, say the two organizations. Chapman will provide a currently vacant lot owned by the University to OHG rent-free, and OHG will plan and manage the educational farm, which will be dedicated to teaching the values and know-how of producing locally grown food.
Right now the OHG Education Farm – at 356 N. Lemon Street in Orange – is little more than a lot covered in bare dirt, with work on the garden just beginning. But soon there will be a bounty of vegetables, fruit trees and herbs flourishing there, along with an outdoor teaching space where the community can learn about backyard agriculture and experience the delights of farm-to-table gardening.
“We are delighted and proud to partner with Orange Home Grown on this outstanding project, which will benefit people of all ages in our community,” said Daniele Struppa, chancellor and president-designate of Chapman University. “There is a need for widespread education on growing and choosing healthy food and teaching young people where our food comes from, and Chapman is thrilled to join with OHG in this important endeavor.”
Chapman University and OHG are no strangers to each other – they also are longtime partners in the success of the Orange Home Grown Farmers and Artisans Market, held every Saturday at the historic Villa Park Orchards Packing House lot on the Chapman campus. The popular farmer’s market recently celebrated its fifth anniversary.
The OHG Education Farm is the realization of a dream that has been stirring for more than a year, says Brian Kunisch, OHG co-founder and board president. “It embodies our mission to help cultivate a healthy community and serves as a new platform for educational, volunteer, and collaborative opportunities,” Kunisch said. “Even in the early stages, as we are now, the support for this farm has been overwhelming and we feel this will continue to grow along with the farm. A special thanks to Chapman University for their continued support and generosity to enable the efforts and visions of OHG to come to fruition.”
A central part of the farm will be an outdoor teaching area where classes, workshops and, eventually, farm-to-table education dinners will be held. (sounds fabulous right?) Community members will be invited to work as volunteers on the farm, but it’s strictly an educational garden, so individual plots will not be available to the community for lease. The farm will be for plants only — no animals or birds will be raised on the premises. Produce grown in the demonstration plots will be donated to local food pantries or possibly used by local chefs in special seasonal promotions.
As with OHG’s Saturday market, volunteers and community support will be relied on to get the garden up and running and continue its maintenance. Supplies, donations, elbow grease, strong backs and all manner of helping hands are being sought by OHG. A blueprint of the site has already laid out plans for row crops, berry bushes, fruit trees, compost and worm bins, a potting table, storage shed, bike parking and seating benches.
At approximately 8,000 square feet, the OHG Education Farm is smaller than many urban farms springing up across the country, but it’s enough to show people what they can do with a home garden, be it a large yard or a planter on a balcony, said Megan Penn, executive director and co-founder of OHG.
“We’re not saying you have to feed your family just by what you grow, but putting your hands in soil and growing something is good for you,” Penn said. “It’s healthy. It goes into our whole mission of trying to keep our community healthy. We want to help provide resources for people to do that.”
To learn how you can help out at the OHG Education Farm, contact Orange Home Grown online (www.orangehomegrown.org) or by visiting its information booth at its Saturday Farmers and Artisans Market in Orange.