Fifteen-year old Yessica Sanchez never knew where cilantro in her tacos “really” came from.
“You know how there are trees and there are leaves? I thought it was going to be similar to that,” said Sanchez, a sophomore at Health Careers Academy High School in Stockton.
In the shadow of the Port of Stockton on land donated by the port, the farm is a diamond in the rough.
It’s called the Boggs Tract Community Farm.
On a 3.5 acre plot of land, dozens of fruits and vegetables are grown, from okra to cucumbers to sweet corn.
“We have food deserts. So this farm for example is located in a food desert. What that means is there’s not direct and easy access for people living in this neighborhood to get fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy food,” said PUENTES founder Jeremy Terhune.
The non-profit PUENTES broke ground on the farm in 2009 and it gets help, keeping it vibrant year round, from the Black Urban Farmers Association.
The mission for the neighborhood is simple.
“Make a cultural connection between them and their food and make healthy and fresh food available to the community,” said Terhune.
With grants from the USDA, corporations and other non-profits, the farm gives individual families a chance to grow their own food.
The produce is also sold to businesses, restaurants and just about anyone. The profits then go back into the farm to keep it going. It’s all an education for kids for the first time seeing a farm in person.
On this day, high school students from Stockton’s Health Careers Academy got a chance to dispel their own myths about where food comes from.
“You never really get an opportunity to come out and see how everything is really grown," said high school freshman Lillian Valenzuela.
But today they did.
“A lot of our students come from inner city schools, so they have never been to a farm before. They have never met a farmer. They’ve never seen chickens in real life," said Stephanie Etcheverria with the Center for Land Based Learning.
“You can just see them looking at things with brand new eyes. And, I think they see everything for the miracle that it is,” said Sydnee Kennedy, a volunteer through the San Joaquin County Office of Education.
PUENTES has also expanded its mission by partnering with the San Joaquin County Office of Education to provide produce for kids at elementary schools in Tracy and soon, Stockton.
The non-profit has created after school farmer’s markets run by students to sell fruits and vegetables to the public.
The Boggs Tract Farm is having its 7th annual fundraiser called "Seeds and Spirits" brunch this Sunday, Nov. 5 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. It takes place at the farm at 466 South Ventura Avenue in Stockton.
For more information, go to eventbrite.com.
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