Minutes from November 26, 2013 Open Meeting-

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

 Open Board of Directors Meeting

  San Bernardino Community College District

 114 S. Del Rosa Drive

 San Bernardino, CA 92408


Present:  Dimitrios Alexious, Don Averill, Carole Beswick, Ken Coate, Bill Easley, Dick Hart, Scott Hofferber, Mark Kaenel, Ed Lasak, John Mirau, Steve PonTell, John Prentice, Susan Rice, Kristine Scott, Paul Shimoff, Steve von Rajcs, Phil Waller, A.J. Wilson and Ray Wolfe.

Announcement:  1) The next Inland Action meeting, December 3, 2013, will be held in the Don Averill Applied Technology Training Center located across the parking lot from the Board room where we usually meet.  2) Ray Wolfe has extended an invitation to the membership for a boat tour of the Port of Long Beach.  The tour will be held in conjunction with the SANBAG Board members meeting on Thursday, January 23, 2014.  The invitation will be e-mailed to the membership. 3) A hearing will be held on December 11, 2013 regarding the proposed Waterman Gardens project in the City of San Bernardino.    

M/S/P: Minutes from November 26, 2013 

Dick Hart introduced Bob Knight, Chairman, Inland Orange Conservancy. 

Citrus and agriculture were the economic drivers for Southern California for many years and up through the early 1950’s.  Although some of the best oranges in California come from Riverside and Redlands, today there are only some 300 growers with 3,000 acres remaining.  It’s not just our past; it should be part of our future.   

Numerous challenges

In addition to the dwindling number of growers and groves, the economics of orange growing are abysmal.  Today growers receive $1.00 for 55lb. of oranges that a grocery chain buys for $40-$50.00.  This unsustainable system cannot continue for existing growers and is a deterrent to potential growers.  The average age of our Riverside & Redlands farmers is now between 70-75.   Although there is an increased interest in farming the existing economics are bleak and discouraging.     

Since arriving in 2008, the Asian Citrus Psyllid (a bacteria carrying insect) has already infected and killed 1/3 of Florida’s citrus trees and has infected another 70%.  The bacterial disease is now present in California and will not be able to be contained.  The signs of infection do not present for two years on a tree and although spraying is helpful it must be done frequently.  In addition to the groves over 60% of residential properties have citrus trees and it is unrealistic to believe all trees can be treated effectively.  Growers worldwide are looking for new varieties that are resistant to this pest.  The solution will come but new varieties will take 10-15 years or more and will be untested for stability.     

To bridge this time gap the Inland Empire could embrace the growing local food movements.  Around the country dozens of small towns, cities and large metro areas are developing themselves as Food Innovation Districts.   The goal is not to become part of mass-market industrial agriculture, but artisanal (generally organic) farming that meets the needs of the local food movement and people who are interested in the origin, quality and freshness of their food.  Food Innovation districts are unique collaborations of farmers, restaurateurs, craftsmen, store owners, distributors, economic development agencies and local government to promote local agriculture, local food related business, stabilize rural areas and brand themselves as tourist destination.  Examples of Asheville, North Carolina, Madison, Wisconsin and Traverse City, Michigan were cited and discussed.   

The Inland Empire has all of the components to become a Food Innovation District.

  • o    Still have small farms & farmers
  • o    Proximity-10 million eaters
  • o    Sense of place-we’re the last placeholders of So. Cal’s iconic agricultural heritage
  • o    Already have a considerable mass of brewers and restaurants 

To achieve this, our farms must diversify, become profitable and attract new growers.  Farms must grow the fruit and vegetables that supply the LA-Basin local food demand.  They need to tap into school districts, hospitals, restaurants, retail and families via Farmshares/Community Supported Agriculture.  Banding together in a food hub could access these markets and provide variety.  Usage of a restored historic packinghouse would create a local food hub and a foodie tourist center.   

New growers can be encouraged through development of a “local farmer” program.  These programs would educate /re-educate new farmers.  The University of California, Riverside is well equipped for such a program and has a good deal of acreage.  As the Asian Citrus Psyllid disease advances City Groves could be used as incubator farms for these new growers.  University California, Santa Cruz has a farmer apprenticeship program that has had great success.  

To be successful there must be a “Buzz”.  Local farms must capture Southern California farm-to-school produce, Community Supported Agriculture and retail markets for premium produce branded as “Inland Grown”.  We must work together to create a foodie tourists destination (brewers, casinos, restaurants, Farms, B&B’s, walkable downtown, etc.  Capture “Edible L.A.” (a quarterly food magazine) franchise cooperatively with Riverside, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga and Temecula.  

A Q & A period followed. 

Meeting adjourned at 8:35a.m.