The Community Development Potential of Embracing Local Food Systems

How do you increase community involvement in the consumption, embrace, and production of local food? How does a city, or county, benefit from the development of community and school gardens? What is the role of a farmers’ market in community development beyond offering a location where farmers can sell direct to the public? What benefits do farmers’ markets confer to the community and economy?

To learn the answer to these questions, and more, you won’t want to miss the ‘The Community Development Potential of Embracing Local Food Systems’ panel at the upcoming Grow Local OC: Future of Local Food Systems slated for Nov. 10 at California State University, Fullerton. The following expert speakers will address the impact of farmers’ markets, community and school gardens, and community engagement around local food:

tim_alderson_12Tim Alderson is the Executive Director of Seeds of Hope, the food justice ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, which grows and distributes food in over 100 communities of need across six Southern California counties. His lifetime in agriculture has included nearly 20 years as CEO of AgriGator, Inc., a multi-national soil amendment manufacturer, as well as numerous industry boards including the board of directors of the National Agri-Marketing Association. He was the founding chairman of the California School Garden Network and was appointed by two California governors to the board of the Schools Agriculture and Nutrition Program where he currently serves as President. He was also appointed to the California Department of Education School Garden Advisory Committee. Tim lives in Pasadena, California where he has served as Chairman of the city’s Recreation and Parks Commission and the Mayor’s Workforce Housing Task Force.

sonora-ortiz-boatSonora Ortiz is the manager of the Downtown Santa Ana Farmers’ Market, a culinary and nutrition educator, farmer, and future astrobiologist. They work all over the world but are currently back home in Orange County to help transform the local food system. Sonora draws from permaculture and Transitions principles to guide their work with an emphasis on accessibility and community collaboration.


megan-pennMegan Penn – Born and raised in the City of Orange, CA, Megan truly knows the meaning of “homegrown”. She is a graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and holds a BS in City and Regional Planning with an emphasis in Urban Design. Megan spent 12 years as an accomplished Urban Planner and Senior Project Manager before venturing into the position of Executive Director for the grassroots driven Orange Home Grown (OHG) organization. As a co-founder of Orange Home Grown Inc., which started in 2009, she is passionate about providing access to locally grown food, works to improve the local food system through education, and develops opportunities that create “community” here in Orange County. Megan holds a position on the City of Orange Community Development Block Grant Committee and is a board member for the Pitcher Park Foundation. Megan is a wife and mother and enjoys growing food at home and raising backyard chickens.

jeremy-samsonJeremy Samson is an Urban Farmer who works with several different organizations to improve the food system in Orange County with gardens. He is Co-director of Cultivate Together, a non-profit focused on facilitating the creation and sustainability of neighborhood farms and community garden spaces. As an Orange County Master Gardener he is a member of the Speakers Bureau that teaches gardening classes around the county. After attending the Edible School Yard Academy in Berkeley last year, he now serves on the School Garden Team for the Master Gardeners and as the Slow Food Orange County Garden chair. Jeremy also owns a small landscape design and consultation business specializing in edible and drought tolerant landscaping with an emphasis on resource conservation and wildlife habitat.

rickey-smithRickey Smith is founder and principal of Urban Green LLC, a social entrepreneurship dedicated to restoring, developing and promoting “green space” within the communities it serves. Urban Green LLC was designed upon Rickey’s philosophy of Circular Synergy, which seeks to establish a CLEAR path connecting the inter-disciplines of Cuisine, Land-use, Environment, and Architecture into Renewable cycles of self-reliant communities. As a youth, Rickey worked the land upon his family’s rural property in Wartrace, Tennessee. He received his Bachelor in Business from University of Tennessee, Knoxville and a MFA in Visual Anthropology/Cinema from University of Southern California.

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