12 Days of Giving 2016 -- The Root 66 Garden
By Sid Robinson
Many political, social and spiritual groups encourage being altruistic and giving back to your community year-round. However, something is in the air during the holiday season that really brings out the spirit of giving in all of us. For 12 days throughout December, we want to inspire you to give back to those who are in need in our local neighborhoods. Our "12 Days of Giving" feature shares the impact and needs of 12 different Inland Empire charities. Our hope is that each feature will inform, inspire and encourage you to donate, volunteer or give back in some way. Please consider giving the gift of kindness to a stranger this season, because it may be the only one they receive.
Day 11 - The Root 66 Garden
There was a time when farming and agriculture dominated the Inland Empire landscape. Dairy farms spread across Chino and Ontario. Lemon and orange groves covered towns along the foothills, and apple trees filled the hillsides and high desert. Vineyards were so prolific in Cucamonga and neighboring cities that the area was known as California’s first great wine region, long before Napa Valley or our own Temecula Valley.
Most of the Inland Empire land that once grew livestock and crops has given way to residential and commercial development. Only a few traces remain, aside from the apple-growing areas and the Temecula wine region. The concept of growing your own food has gone the way of the farms themselves – until recently.
The Root 66 Garden was founded in 2009 as a collaborative non-profit community project that encourages and teaches people to grow their own food.
As the name suggests, the Root 66 Garden is located in Rancho Cucamonga along Foothill Boulevard – or famous Route 66. It originated as a project of the non-profit Restorative Justice Center in Upland with the goal of showcasing what communities can do to create more sustainable, green and health environments.
Thanks to a land and water donation of more than 14 acres from O and S Holdings (Foothill Crossings LLC - Gary and Mark Safady and Paul Orfalea), the Root 66 Garden offers education and information about the benefits of gardening, along with access to garden plots to anyone interested in growing their own food.
Small plots are available for families, groups and individuals to rent to grow fruits and vegetables, while commercial growers and large groups have access to rent larger garden plots. Tools are available for rental and storage.
Special emphasis is on providing low-income families with healthy food options through access to low-cost, locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables. In addition, the organization promotes food donations to local food banks and to homebound seniors.
In teaching organic gardening techniques, the Root 66 Garden hopes to help neighborhoods throughout the Inland Empire establish their own community gardens, while also developing new appreciation for nutrition, healthy foods and the environment.
The education focus stretches beyond the garden itself and into local school districts, where students will learn how to grow food and about health and nutrition.
Root 66 Garden also has its own farmer’s market, historic vineyard, programs that promote water conservation and special events such as a pumpkin patch, corn maze and Christmas tree lot.
The success and sustainability of The Root 66 Garden is dependent on volunteers and donations, and there are countless ways to give back by working in the garden or providing “scholarships” for low-income families to grow their gardens.