CoCo San Sustainable Farm Free Summer Urban Farming Camp

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Photo by CoCo San Sustainable Farm

Martinez, Calif. – The CoCo San Sustainable Farm, a project of non-profit AgLantis (501c-3), an innovative urban sustainable farm project in Contra Costa County is holding a free Summer Urban Farming Camp.

AgLantis is contracting with Tanya Wood, B.S., as recent graduate of University of California Santa Cruz with a degree in Environmental Studies and expertise in Agroecology. Tanya Wood will provide students hands-on organic farming and gardening experiences that boost summer learning in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). The classes are free, but donations are appreciated.

Classes will be held between June 18 and August 11. Students can sign up for 2, 4, 6 or 8 weeks of hands-on experiences. Classes will be held Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to noon, plus Friday August 10 to work on presentations. Saturday August 11 th will be poster presentations by students. Preference is given to students ages 14 and older. Adults may volunteer and learn. Any local group who has a group of students and a garden and wants Tanya Wood to come teach at their location may contact the farm at [email protected]  to determine if arrangements can be made.

A farm is a bountiful laboratory for hands-on learning about many topics in science and engineering, as well as measurement, math, and safety training – all part of 21 st Century job skills. Students will learn how to build planting beds, start seeds, install irrigation, and will learn farming and gardening practices that protect the environment such as no tilling and using recycled water for growing crops. Soil and water testing will teach youth about the basics of soil and water chemistry. Classes will discuss how the food system affects our environment and health and food justice. Students will learn about some of the physics of weather, the water cycle, the carbon cycle, some of the thinking and civil engineering involved in site planning and designing water systems. They will also learn about beneficial insects and integrated-pest- management to protect bees and birds and more. Master Gardener and Diablo Valley College Horticulture Professor Bethallyn Black is the Farm Director and will be involved in class design.

“Every aspect of science and engineering happens on a farm: physics, soil science, hydrology, microbiology, and even psychology along with mechanical, electrical and civil engineering, said Carolyn Phinney, president of AgLantis. “This is a chance for youth to learn science, engineering and math are fun. Most of us learn better by hands-on learning. These summer classes will also help students develop 21 st century employability skills such as analysis and solution mindset, collaboration, resilience, empathy, and adaptability,” Dr. Phinney went on to say. “You never know which experience will spark a young person’s interest in a career.”

The farm is located on 15 acres of Central Contra Costa Sanitary District buffer land which is located in Contra Costa County’s Northern Waterfront and is considered part of the East Contra Costa (EC2) Economic Development efforts of the county. The farm has four goals: Food Equity; Education; Environmental Protection and Economic Development. The summer program foster  the educational mission and helps develop job skills.

The farm has also received $50,000 in support from the Contra Costa County Livable Communities Trust Fund at the recommendation of Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors Federal Glover and Karen Mitchoff. This county support is for the assembly of a 6000 square foot, high-tech, commercial greenhouse donated by AgraTech, Inc., of Pittsburg, CA. Thanks to this and other funding, the greenhouse is expected to be built in the next 9 months.

The project aligns with the County’s Livable Communities Trust Fund’s goals in promoting innovative land use planning and design principles, and promoting economic revitalization.

According to the project plans, CoCo Sustainable Farm, situated in Contra Costa County’s Northern Waterfront across state Route 4 from Buchanan Field Airport, will be irrigated by recycled, nutrient-rich, agricultural grade water that currently ends up in the Suisun Bay as treated wastewater.

One primary aim of the CoCo San Sustainable Farm is to grow produce to be sold to the Contra Costa/Solano Food Bank and local schools at a very low price. The Contra Costa Food Bank, located about a mile away, will be responsible for picking up and distributing fresh produce from the farm to its clients and area schools such as the Los Medanos Food Pantry. The farm hopes to be a jobs incubator for the green economy once the hydroponics greenhouse is built and operational. As drought persists, the future of growing food increasingly includes closed environment agriculture (greenhouse growing) which uses much less water than field crops.

“This farm belongs to the community and the support we have received has been incredible. People immediately understand the value of this urban farm can be to the community and are eager to see our shared vision fulfilled,” said Phinney.

Major contributors are: Michael Cunningham, Ph.D., National University; Mike Milani, P.E., Milani and Associates; Tesoro (now Andeavor); PG&;E; Leigh E. Johnson (Trial Whisperer); EcoMulch; and County Quarry; and Chris Beardon, Phinney said. The Central Contra Costa Sanitary District is leasing the land to AgLantis for $1 per year and providing all the tertiary treated water it needs for the effort. All of the labor for the last seven years of developing this project has been donated. AgLantis will be focused on raising another $200,000 is to pay for the county’s Public Works fees, erect fences, build a barn, equip the hydroponics greenhouse and put in the irrigation system and bring their vision to reality.

About AgLantis EIN 46-463443

AgLantis is a California non-profit public benefit corporation, 501c-3. The work being done on the CoCo San Sustainable Farm has a quadruple bottom line – social Equity, Educational,

Environmental and Economic. This farm is a model for healthy, fresh, affordable, local fresh produce; education for the community; environmental protection; and green job creation. Their website is www.Salads4Schools.org  and email is [email protected]

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