On Tuesday, Aug. 31, Irvine’s Second Harvest Food Bank and the Irvine-based Solutions for Urban Agriculture celebrated the launch of a sustainable farming initiative that will bring more than 30,000 pounds of fresh, locally grown produce to Irvine each week.
Located within UC Irvine’s South Coast Research and Extension Center (South Coast REC), near the Orange County Great Park, this new 45-acre farm will help Second Harvest Food Bank, along with the Orange County Pantry Network, by supplying produce supply chains that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
To kick off the Harvest Solutions Farm project, volunteers helped plant a portion of the 45-acre farm’s first 26,000 cabbage plants.
With the first official harvest expected in November, A.G. Kawamura, Chairman of Solutions for Urban Ag, and former California Secretary of Food and Agriculture, estimates the first harvest could bring in 40,000 pounds of cabbage weekly, and more than half a million pounds of produce in less than six months.
“After this initial planting of cabbage, which is a hearty, versatile vegetable that’s easy to grow and a nutritional mainstay in a variety of cultures, the second planting of spring and summer vegetables will begin in March of 2022. It will include zucchini squash, cucumbers and mini-sweet bell peppers,” Kawamura said. “With another 45 acres fully planted we can harvest a cornucopia of nutrient-dense fresh produce, delivering well over 100,000 pounds per month throughout the summer and fall.”
Second Harvest Board Chairman Dave Coffaro said he is proud to be a part of this project, adding that he hopes this sustainable addition to the city of Irvine will inspire others.
“This is a historic day for Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County,” Coffaro said. “Few food banks, if any, have attempted to grow their own food on this large a scale. Our unique good fortune to have access to 45 acres in the heart of an urban center like Irvine where we are able to cultivate an array of crops and supply our food pantry partners with fresh, nutritious produce brings us a huge step closer to making nutritional security a reality for our entire community.”