Capital Region Cares Capital Region Cares 2017-2018 - Page 55

from our farm, and we transform all of our revenues into garden spaces, educational programs and workforce de- velopment opportunities for the community.” Too often, he says, the commercial food economy provides “pass-through” value to the community. “We want to keep those dollars circulating in the local econo- my and create more food security and jobs where people need them most,” he says. GROWING AND GROWING Al and Inez Aldridge, husband and wife, started out gar- dening on the PUENTES farm five years ago after retire- ment and now farm for PUENTES with the group they’ve founded, the Black Urban Farmers Association, where they serve a mission of growing and providing healthy, nutritious and affordable food to underserved commu- nities. “Our original farm started out as a plot here at PU- ENTES. We took the monthly classes and everything that we learned from PUENTES allowed us to start our own farm and to then start Black Urban Farmers Association,” Inez Aldridge says. Though they also do work with regional partners to address bigger food system needs, “95 percent of our work happens at the neighborhood level where we work with residents and partners to envision and create a health-promoting food system,” says Co-Director Shawn Harrison. This includes the Growing Together initiative of helping to develop sustainable school garden pro- grams that teach children about nutrition and science, similar to the goals of the PUENTES school program. Alongside their CSA program, PUENTES focuses their efforts on the Boggs Tract Community Farm in Stockton, a garden at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds and the Black Urban Farmer’s Association plot, located in three of the major food desert areas of San Joaquin County. The nonprofit also runs other programs to serve their mission of empowering at-risk communities to feed their families healthy food through the knowledge and development of sustainable technology and urban farming. “PUENTES CSA is an entirely community-based pro- gram,” Terhune says. “We harvest and sell boxes of locally- produced fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs, honey and more SPONSORED BY Hope, Strength, Healing for children with cancer formerly known as Keaton Raphael Memorial Celebrating www.childcancer.org 916-784-6786 ® 20 Years of Caring comstocksmag.com | 2017 CAPITAL REGION CARES 55