Annual Review 2019 / Solutions

2019: A Year in Review

Our most transformative year yet!

2019: A Year in Review

Looking to the future, we will plant hundreds of trees across our 28 acres – avocado, apple, mulberry, orange, grapefruit, lemon, pomegranate, tangerine, persimmon, guava, fig, jujube, olive, stone fruit, and nut trees. The future is abundant!

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To view and print our 2019 impact report, download the PDF link below!

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2019 has been an incredibly transformative year. Together, alongside our dedicated community, we have many inspiring accomplishments to celebrate. Here are some highlights:

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO: Transitioned 50% of our newly acquired farm land to model regenerative practices through the use of permaculture techniques, agroforestry, and more. We are well on our way to bringing our vision of building a world-class, transformative community farm and learning institute to reality — an infrastructure that increases our community’s exposure to agriculture, food, and artisan culture. With our expanded footprint onto 28 acres, we have the opportunity to scale our impact and model regenerative agriculture that can transform our community and culture. This farm will become the platform through which we can achieve a shift that transcends food not only for our community but the three million people who surround it.

ENCINITAS: In 2018, we partnered with the Encinitas Union School District’s 10 acre Farm Lab. This year, we nourished 5,400 students at Encinitas Union School District’s nine elementary schools with 24,428 lbs of organic fruits and vegetables, and planted 120 fruit trees at Encinitas to feed our children, attract beneficial birds and insects, retain water, support soil development, and provide shade. Because of this partnership, every day, students across 9 schools enjoy healthy, organic ingredients in their school lunch grown by The Ecology Center Encinitas at Farm Lab. This site will continue to develop as we offer more community programming and experiential activities for families. In June, we invited the community to our first ever Green Feast in Encinitas and continue to engage participants through workshops, speaker events, and film showings in an effort to educate and inspire a new generation of ecological communities. Join us on June 20th 2020 for our next Green Feast: Encinitas to help us support our continued efforts on this property. Save the date!

FARM STAND: our newly-designed Farm Stand offers nutritious, locally-grown, organic ingredients. Our community now has daily access to local goods, ingredients, and other tools to thrive. All ingredients are sourced within 250 miles of San Juan Capistrano and curated to reflect our community and region.

FARM SHARE: Over 150 individuals and families per season are nourished with organic produce sourced from our farm and local farms in our region,  and in turn, supporting our farm through this community supported agriculture program.

ECOLOGICAL EXPERIENCES: Engaged over 10,000 children, families, and community members on site in skills-building DIY workshops, educational experiences, and community festivals that inspire change. Every day, people from across the region join our ecosystem to help plant seeds, tend the garden, create with their hands, and learn new skills. Experiences onsite inspire our community and invite them to see, touch, and taste a thriving ecosystem.

IMPACT & EDUCATION: Piloted Feast Verde, an experiential culinary education program, with 12 local children from the Boys & Girls Club of Capistrano Valley. During the 6-week bilingual program, children connected directly with the source of their food and participated in growing, harvesting, and meal preparation. All of these activities culminated into a beautiful multicultural, multigenerational farm to table meal for their families at the end of the session. The success of this summer’s pilot program will be replicated for hundreds of children across apprenticeships, field trips, and family experiences in 2020.

Enriched the lives of 22 children every week through Farm Raised, a creative homeschool co-op where children experience interconnectivity, collaboration, imagination, and inspiration with loving guidance by our village of Waldorf-inspired teachers, farmers, bakers, chefs, artisans, and parents.

ACCESSIBILITY: The Ecology Center was approved to accept EBT/SNAP payments in our Farm Stand, making real food more accessible for the food insecure. Created Spanish-language signage throughout our facilities in order to foster a more inclusive space. Through Feast Verde, we work with underserved youth to connect them to the cultural and agricultural heritage of this land. As a part of our new farm plans, we have started to re-orient the farm in a way that will allow more accessibility for any physical impairments or handicaps and have begun a weekly volunteer opportunity to welcome participation with people of all abilities.

VOLUNTEERS: Volunteerism is one of the many things that moves the needle in our work at The Ecology Center. This year, we have had hundreds of volunteers move through the Center – over 1,200 new and returning friendly faces that we consider our family. We have over 4,000 recorded hours from our volunteers– that’s 500 days worth of work! Alongside our staff, volunteers got their hands dirty on the farm- caring for our chickens, harvesting, weeding, planting, gleaning in the fields. Our dedicated Orchard Ohana Fruit Tree Club team have come out once a week for 5 months to care for all of the fruit trees. We now have have a weekly food preservation team that helps to save our produce and eliminate food waste. They also help with our weekly family meal on Wednesdays. We have many more teams that have developed through our volunteerism like a garden club, Farm Share team and so much more. We also launched Corporate Volunteerism and have different companies coming out every month to lend a hand on the farm.

COMMUNITY TABLE: Hosted 1,000 people around the table with their local farmers and chefs to celebrate the abundance of the seasons and show our community what an ecological food experience tastes like. As we gather around the table and enjoy a shared meal together, we are connected to one another through the farmer that grows the food and the chef that prepares it. These educational farm dinner experiences bring our community together and inspire change for our food future.

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