The Orange County Great Park at the old El Toro Marine Corps Air Station is just getting started providing thrills, chills and paid-parking revenues, but farming has been continuing out there through it all--much to the benefit of the Orange County Food Bank.
One hundred tons of fresh fruits and vegetables from the park's community farm and neighboring farms ringing it have been produced for the hunger relief nonprofit so far, reports Mark Lowry, the food bank's director.
"This new source of donated food is coming along at just the right time," Lowry says in a statement issued by the Great Park's public-relations apparatus. "The economic crisis has strained our local emergency food network so it is a great gift to discover a new sustainable source of donated produce. We have already provided produce from the Great Park to nearly 30,000 people. This is a park with a heart."
Agricultural production is considered an interim use as the Great Park converts from a decommissioned military base to a sprawling nature preserve, more traditional park and other public facilities next to Lennar Corp. homes and retail. However, the park corporation's Board of Directors does plan for the completed park to include 100-150 acres for a variety of agricultural uses and programming, including a community farm that will produce fresh fruits and vegetables for the poor.
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"Our interim and permanent farming activities will honor Orange County's rich agricultural heritage, provide opportunities for education and civic engagement, and address a social issue, like hunger, by producing needed food for vulnerable Orange County residents," Great Park board chairman Larry Agran says in the same statement.