Local produce isn’t always accessible in the lower-income districts of Los Angeles, including Pomona. The Learning Centers at Fairplex hopes to help change that as the soon-to-be home of more than 100 specialty California crops.
Thanks to a generous grant from the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, Fairplex plans to expand the current 1/3-acre urban farm into three acres of vegetables, fruits and herbs to be used for the benefit of the community.
“It’s important to expose our community to specialty crop fruits and vegetables grown in our state and to educate families about making healthy choices,” said Karen Ross, Secretary of CDFA. “Communities like Pomona have extremely limited access to and awareness of fresh specialty crops. The farm expansion is a step towards a changing that.”
Part of the grant will also be used to support hands-on horticultural courses for high school students via the Career & Technical Education Center (CTEC). Students use the current garden space to harvest seasonal vegetables, tackle pest control and engage in landscape design. As the farm expands, additional year-round programs for the community will be added.
The farm expansion provides agricultural education opportunities for students of all ages. Local educational institutions will also be invited to conduct field trips to the farm. The onsite Fairplex Child Development Center will be expanding the use of its own plot of land for younger students to cultivate specialty crops of tomatoes, lettuce, squash and other crops.
The L.A. County Fair will engage guests in enhanced agricultural programming including the cycle of crop growth and nutrition. The farm will also continue to produce ingredients for the Sheraton Fairplex Hotel & Conference Center’s dining and catering services, including Table-to-Farm dinners.
“We are excited to move forward with our agricultural and horticultural education programming that educates the community about specialty crops,” Art Ludwick, Chairman of the Los Angeles County Fair Association, said. “We hope to make a positive impact on the environment, on the students and on the community.”
For more information, please visit www.tlcfairplex.org.
Under the direction of the Los Angeles County Fair Association, Fairplex is home to the L.A. County Fair, one of the largest county fairs in the world, as well as The Learning Centers which encompasses Fairtime Learning, The Child Development Center, The Career and Technical Education Center (CTEC) and the Junior Fair Board. Fairplex also operates a diverse hospitality business with the Sheraton Fairplex Hotel & Conference Center, McKinley’s Grille, KOA RV Park, Finish Line Sports Grill and Cornucopia Foods. The campus is also home to the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum and the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona; horse racing and Barretts Sales & Racing; Zoom In Photos; Event Production Solutions as well as the Los Angeles International Wine, Spirits, Beer & EVOO competitions. For more information, please visit www.fairplex.com.