Stockton, CA / Bilingual Weekly
Representatives from various religious denominations as well as the elders of local Native Americans gathered in the middle of the a barren patch of land on Boggs Tract this past Saturday, February 19, 2011, to pray for the future of the first inner-city orchard in San Joaquin County.
Nearly thirty attendees —community activists, City leaders, environmentalists and, of course, local residents— joined them under the white canopy placed near the center of the soon-to-be Boggs Tract Community Farm, browsing through plans and drawings of the project and listening to stakeholders. If everything goes as the ceremony speakers said, this empty lot surrounded by modest houses, warehouses, and railroad tracks next to the Port of Stockton will soon be producing organic vegetables that —through a farmers’ market— will supply fresh produce to their own neighbors.
There were several factors why Boggs Tract was chose for this project, said urban farm organizer Jeremy Terhune, chief among them that they got the land for free for five years thanks to the generosity of the Port of Stockton, but also because Boggs Tract is a neighborhood that doesn’t enjoy a produce-dispensing supermarket in miles around.
“Community gardens improve residents’ health through increased fresh vegetable consumption, by providing a venue for exercise,” added Terhune, “plus it brings people closer to the source of their food —breaking down isolation and creating a social community.”
Among the speakers there was local resident Esperanza Jimenez, who said she will be reserving a small plot to raise tomatoes, chilies and cucumbers, “and expect you to come and buy them from me.”
The Boggs Tract Community Farm is a project of PUENTES (Spanish acronym meaning “bridges,” but standing for Promoters United for a National Education on Sustainable Technologies). “We begin by creating community gardens, or community farms, so people in San Joaquin County can grow healthy food for their families, and make some money,” said PUENTES’ member John Morearty.
The Boggs Tract Community Farm is located on Ventura Street —between Sonora and Hazelton Streets— a few blocks west of the Crosstown Freeway end. For further information call Patricia Miller-Battiste at (209) 598-3647.