Salinas Valley Assemblyman Robert Rivas visited Veggielution Community Farm in San Jose on Wednesday morning on a farm tour across the state and hailed the 6 acre East San Jose farm as a “model” for others.
“In agriculture, things are clearly changing in the state because of climate change,” said Rivas, chairman of the assembly’s agriculture committee, which the San Jose councilor attended on Wednesday Magdalena Carrasco and fellow congregants Ash Kalra. “We’re seeing more diversity in the way we farm, and one of those ways is urban farming.”
And let’s be honest, Veggielution is damn urban. Veggielutions fields, gardens, and buildings are in one corner of 48-acre Emma Prusch Farm Park at the busy intersection of Story and King Streets in the shadow of the overpass ramp from Highway 101 to Interstate 680.
Despite the constant noise of traffic, the nonprofit farm’s programs grow just as quickly as their plants and vegetables. Over the past six years, the annual budget has grown from around $ 400,000 to nearly $ 1 million, with most of the funding coming from foundations and about 30 percent from individuals and families.
In collaboration with Spade & Plow, another farm in Santa Clara County, Veggielution is providing 200 farm boxes, which have also contained supplies for families since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Eastside Connect program food truck will provide 80 meals at the Gardner Community Center for residents of two hotels with temporary accommodation. And the on-site farm stand has attracted so many people to buy products and eggs on Saturdays that it is now open on Mondays too. (Check out their programs at www.veggielution.org.)
Before the coronavirus occurred, Veggielution had expanded its agricultural education programs not only for adults, but also for middle and high school students. An offshoot in the SoFA district of the city center with a farm, garden beds and a food truck is being planned.
“Agriculture should always be a hearth for the community,” said Veggielution’s executive director Cayce hill. “At Veggielution we can introduce people with very different experiences on a farm.”
This works both ways too, as Veggielution reaches out to the various communities in San Jose to find out what to grow. This is why habanero chillies and huacatay, a Peruvian herb, are grown along with tomatoes and corn. Veggielution has also partnered with 4H for a solar powered composting system. Applied Materials brings its employees to the farm every day, and the San Jose Rotary Club is in the middle of a project to build new stalls for veggielution chickens (which are plentiful but not as ubiquitous as the peacocks that live on the farm strive around).
“There’s no reason East San Jose can’t be at the forefront when it comes to demonstrating sustainable practices and climate-friendly agriculture for our state,” said Hill.
GOLDEN CELEBRATION: Congratulations to Los Altos Art Docents as they celebrate 50 years of art teaching to elementary school students in the city. The 1970 of Nancy Marston and Marlene Grovehas not slowed down even during the pandemic. Lecturers worked over the summer to put art lessons together on video that could be used in the classroom or at home.
As part of its 50th anniversary, the voluntary group organized a logo competition for students from transition kindergarten to sixth grade. The winning logo will be shown along with the other 98 entries in Young at Art, an online art exhibition that will be online at www.losaltoshistory.org starting October 22nd.
SOOTHING SUCCULENTS: We all agree that anything that can reduce the stress on our health care workers during this pandemic is a good thing, and the Valley Medical Center Foundation came across an artistic idea that does just that. It’s a “plant bar” where staff from the Santa Clara County’s health care system hospitals have created their own lush gardens of colored sand and stones.
Plant therapy was provided by Little Shop of Horticulture, a botanical design studio in Santa Cruz, and has been a success so far. “People really love this,” said the executive director of the VMC Foundation Chris Wilder. “It’s so good when you can tell that people are smiling under their masks.”
The factory bar was set up for employees at O’Connor Hospital on Monday and Tuesday and will be at Saint Louise Hospital later this week and Valley Medical Center next week.