By Kenia Marrufo
Riverside City College’s Urban Farm, a model for sustainable gardening on campus, received an honorable mention in the Exemplary Program Award by the California Community Colleges Board of Governors, which recognizes outstanding community college programs excelling in environmental leadership
RCC was one of three colleges to receive an honorable mention for their gardening programs.
As of September 2013, the farm has evolved into a fast growing sustainable food production source for the community of Riverside to emphasize the importance of sustainability.
The Urban Farm is located in the heart of campus by the Math and Science Building right across the Dr. Charles A. Kane Student Services Building.
Director Tonya Huff has been in charge of the Urban Farm for the last seven years and has made a great impact within the students and college.
“Mostly I’m just glad that the hard work of the students is being recognized because really this project has been a student-driven project, you know the idea for the garden came from the students that pushed toward the administrators to allow us to do it and then the actual physical labor and planning was majority students,” Huff said. “So it’s really nice to see that effort that has taken so many years have been recognized on a statewide level.”
Throughout the day the farm is open and welcomes students and community members to volunteer, relax and use the space to value the agriculture. Students or community members who wish to volunteer can come in during work days Sundays at 7 a.m.
“Our purpose here is for sustainability and so we grow a lot of our own fruits and vegetables,” Corina Anette Gonzalez, a student mentor, said. “You don’t have to be an expert or anything to help out with plants like I didn’t know really either anything when I first started, so this is where you come and learn. We learn together!”
Every Wednesday of the week, the volunteers of the garden distribute the sustainable foods to students for free.
According to http://www.thecoachkshow.com, statistics show that an average college student spends about $10-12 a day on food which adds up to $70-80 per week. The Urban Farm has helped many students and community members within their grocery shopping budget.
“For people that have to worry about money, like here is a way to get free food because I know students are hungry,” Joaquin Martinez, a longtime volunteer, said. “The food I have harvested here, I have personally taken to a family in need and to the homeless.”
As the Urban Farm progresses and continues to encourage important issues not only on sustainability but in the terms of the environment, administrators have proposed the idea of relocation in the near future.
“I’m hoping that the way the administration views it is evolving in a positive way, so they are definitely willing to support us even though there is a high probability that we won’t have to keep this space,” Preston Galusky, the farm’s co-director, said.
The idea of relocating the Urban Farm was mentioned by the Vice President of Business Services, Chip West, who was unavailable for comment.
To add to their team, the Urban Farm is currently looking for two Sustainable Food Production Education Interns, who would be responsible educating people about smart food choices, water conservation in food production, help with weekly volunteer work days and develop and distribute educational materials.
The interns would receive $12.50 an hour, approximately 8-10 hours a week or a 20 hour maximum. Hours are flexible for applicants.
Students can apply at https://csusb.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_7aE9W2gyLCJzlad by Feb. 15 to get involved.