Capital Region Cares Capital Region Cares 2017-2018 - Page 54

n Feature D Terhune says their Children’s Urban Farm Classroom uring the school year, 13 students from Wash- ington Elementary School in Stockton, meet program is meant to develop a safe learning landscape and once a week at the 5.7-acre Boggs Tract Commu- encourage upward mobility of the typically-underserved nity Farm, where the children grow seedlings students. The benefits are multifaceted and far-reaching, he into vegetables in one small patch of land. The year-long says, and for the children include improving knowledge and program, organized through Stockton-based PUENTES’ vocabulary, problem solving, social skills and the aware- Children’s Urban Farm Classroom, teaches students about ness of available resources. PUENTES’ approach, Terhune says, is unique because healthy eating habits, growing their own food and proper the team strives to develop educational and agricultur- nutrition. The students, in third through sixth grade, also spend al activities that local governments can then replicate to time writing in their journals about their gardening tasks help their local communities. Building equity in neighbor- and other agricultural issues presented in teacher-led dis- hoods plagued by inadequate access to healthy, whole foods cussions, says Jeremy Terhune, executive director of PU- through sustainable technology and educational opportu- ENTES. “Topics include their future career plans and what nities is the focus at PUENTES. it will take to attain their goals, along with record-keeping, lessons on agriculture related topics and development of so- RIGHT TO YOUR DOOR cial and emotional skills.” PUENTES also offers community supported agriculture More than 29 million people in the U.S. live in “food des- programs — known as CSAs — throughout the Capital Re- erts,” where access to affordable, healthy food options is lim- gion. CSAs have become a popular way for consumers to ited or nonexistent. (A food buy local, seasonal food direct- desert is defined as any ly from a farmer. With a typical urban home where a gro- CSA, a farm offers a number of cery store is further than shares (boxes of vegetables or one mile away, or 10 miles other produce) to the public in away in a rural area, ac- exchange for a subscription or cording to the U.S. Depart- membership, in which members ment of Food and Agricul- receive weekly seasonal produc e ture.) More than 15 million throughout the farming sea- children currently live in son. Farmers offer CSAs, in part, food-insecure households because it helps to provide a — with limited access to steady income stream as well as adequate food and nutri- much-needed upfront capital at tion due to cost, proximity the start of the growing season. and/or other resources, ac- CSAs also create opportu- cording to the USDA. nities for families to feed them- PUENTES, a nonprof- selves more nutritiously and — Jeremy Terhune, executive director, PUENTES it urban farm in Stockton healthfully through the chance — where many neighbor- to participate in sustainable ur- hoods qualify as food deserts — is working hard to change ban agriculture and growing natural foods to make them that reality for local families. Terhune founded the organi- more widely available in the community, Terhune says. zation in 2009 after he returned home from Peace Corps ser- Soil Born Farms is another local nonprofit that helps vice in Panama and realized that parts of Stockton had more better connect urban residents to their food, their health food insecurity than what he’d seen in Central America. and their environment: From their early roots located in the PUENTES stands for “Promotores Unidos Para La Edu- middle of Sacramento County, Soil Born has long-offered cación Nacional de Tecnologias Sostenibles,” which trans- a variety of projects and programs in the community that lates to Promoters United for the National Education of Sus- help create a healthier food system both in their neighbor- tainable Technologies. hood and at a regional level. “We transform all of our revenues into garden spaces, educational programs and workforce development opportunities for the community.” 54 CAPITAL REGION CARES 2017 | comstocksmag.com