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Bearing fruit with Garden to Table – Growing Sustainably

SAN JOSE, CA - APRIL 13, 2013: Volunteer Jose Sepulveda reaches up to grab just picked grapefruit from Anthony Tiggs from a large old citrus tree as a part of the Garden2Table program which harvests fruit from trees that would otherwise go to waste on April 13, 2013 in a central neighborhood in San Jose, California. (Photograhy credits to Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
SAN JOSE, CA – APRIL 13, 2013: Volunteer Jose Sepulveda reaches up to grab grapefruit that Anthony Tiggs had just harvested from a large old citrus tree as a part of Garden to Table, a CommUniverCity partnership which harvests fruit from trees that would otherwise go to waste in a central neighborhood in San Jose, California. (Photography credits to Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times, April 13, 2013)

 

Our program and partnership Growing Sustainably – Garden to Table, was featured this Saturday August 3, 2013 in L.A. Times by Lee Romney on the story of how Garden to Table began, and how our efforts have addressed the issues of poverty, crime, neighborhood blight, and food security in the Central San José neighborhoods. We are grateful for the leadership and support of our student and residents, including Sami Monsur, Dario Lerma, Graham Stitchman, Ruperto Garza, and José Calderon.

We need your help to continue our projects as well as building a new urban farm in downtown San Jose later this year. Become an engaged CommUniverCitan by volunteering with Growing Sustainably – Garden to Table to improve access to healthy, fresh foods for our community. Email us at g2t@cucsj.org.

Below is an excerpt from the article. Read the article here.

“The project that brought the lush harvest to this particular frontyard is one that aims to create a local food supply where hunger is prevalent and fresh foods are not.

Started two years ago, Garden to Table so far has spawned seven shared gardens, a gleaning program that yields nearly 2,000 pounds of fruit per month and nutrition classes that emphasize healthy, locally sourced meals.

“That’s the Espinozas’; they live in an apartment,” said Lerma, 66, pointing to a raised bed. “That one’s Jose Ramos’, from the trailer park.”

With a standing invitation to share in the yield, he dashed through the gate to snatch a few fat zucchini.

Silicon Valley once was so fertile that it was dubbed the Valley of Heart’s Desire. Garden to Table is putting that history to work in an area bypassed by the region’s tech-industry prosperity.

Although many town-gown efforts dispatch students to neighborhoods to volunteer or do research, Garden to Table’s parent organization, CommUniverCity, launches only projects that residents have chosen to foster.

“So often what happens with these service learning projects is you come in and then you’re gone,” said Hilary Nixon, an associate professor of urban and regional planning and Garden to Table’s faculty advisor. “The goal here is to really focus on the needs of the neighborhood, to empower the neighbors.”

Currently expanding to all of central San Jose, CommUniverCity has until now focused on Five Wounds/Brookwood Terrace, a 11/2 square-mile community that for nearly a century has been the heart of Portuguese life in the valley. More-recent arrivals have come predominantly from Mexico. The area’s median household income is about half that of the county’s, and three-fourths of its residents speak a language other than English in their homes.

While the city has worked to improve street lighting and clean up graffiti, more than 11,000 university students have teamed with residents on about 200 projects to improve education, the environment, health and more.

“We’d focus on getting neighborhoods clean and safe, and San Jose State was able to then come in and say: ‘Your basic needs are being met, how can we make your lives better?'” said Paul Pereira, an aide to Councilman Sam Liccardo, a key CommUniverCity backer.

Justice studies students have worked to expunge residents’ criminal records. Business students have honed merchant marketing plans, and urban planning students have helped residents draft their dream for a planned regional transit station: a mixed-use village with a town square connected to a network of trails on abandoned railroad rights-of-way. The vision, incorporated into San Jose’s general plan, is expected to receive formal approval this fall.

“It’s about the present and the future,” said Lerma, who in addition to picking fruit for Garden to Table has helped plan CommUniverCity’s annual Halloween festival, educating residents about sustainability and helping parents craft costumes from recycled materials. “We do it because there’s pride. It’s our neighborhood. We see the outcome, which is the most beautiful part.”

Garden to Table grew from the same seed.” (Romney, 2013)

Reference:

Romney, Lee. (2013, August 3). San Jose’s Garden to Table effort is bearing fruit. The L.A. Times. Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-san-jose-garden-to-table-20130804,0,2142103,full.story

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