Doug Turner, treasurer for Orange Home Grown, digs to install a PVC pipe irrigation system at the Orange Home Grown Education Farm.

(Photo by Daniel Langhorne) 

Farm fresh

Volunteers will be needed the most  this fall, as the farm prepares to plant citrus trees, berries, grape vines, chocolate mint and leafy vegetables.

Those who patronize local restaurants might  be interested  to know that several chefs are interested in including the education farm’s  produce  in  their  menus. Penn claims that Chef Greg Daniels of Haven Gastropub will even pay some of his chefs to volunteer at the farm.Chapman  has  supported  Orange Home Grown by hosting the Farmers Market at the Villa Park Orchards  Packinghouse for the past five years.

“We  are  delighted  and  proud to  partner  with  Orange  Home Grown on this outstanding project, which will benefit people of all ages in our community,” said Daniele Struppa, chancellor and president-designee  of  Chapman University. “There is a need for widespread education on growing and  choosing healthy food, and teaching young people where our food comes from, and Chapman is  thrilled to join  with  OHG  in this important endeavor.”

If  you’re  interested in volunteering at the Orange Home Grown Education Farm, contact Angela Nichter at

By Daniel Langhorne

The  nonprofit  behind the Orange Home Grown Farmers and Artisans Market has partnered with Chapman University to build an education farm to introduce the community to the benefits of locally-grown produce.

Orange Home Grown Inc. volunteers broke ground on May 16 at a Chapman-owned lot at 356 N. Lemon St. that was previously used for storage. Megan Penn, executive director for Orange Home Grown, envisions inviting classes of elementary school students to the farm to learn about plant biology, and Orange High School students in the Future Farmers of America program to deepen their knowledge of urban farming.

She  also  would  like  to  open part  of  the  farm  for  Chapman students, employees and Orange residents to try their hand at gardening.

“We hope, if we can make this experiment  work,  we  can  replicate it,” Penn said.

Digging up dirt

The property’s soil has grown almost as hard as rock over the years, so the first job was laying above-ground  irrigation  to  start loosening it up.

Penn enlisted  Doug  Kent,  an adjunct professor at Cal Poly Pomona’s  Center  for  Regenerative Studies, to help improve the soil quality at the farm.

Kent, Wayne Gensler and Doug Turner (who is Penn’s father) laid PVC pipe to create a preliminary irrigation system for the farm.

Board  members  Nedra  Kunish, Paula Soest and Glory Johnson clipped dried weeds that had crawled up a chain link fence on the property line that the farm shares with Juana Lemus. When Lemus visited her new neighbors, she asked if they could remove a large tree that has been pushing against her fence.

Penn  said  she’d  be  happy  to help, and wanted to plant passion fruit along the fence line.

When asked what she thought about the plan to turn the dirt lot into  an  education  farm,  Lemus said she was OK with it.

Over the next few months, the focus will be reintroducing nitrogen into the ground by plant-ing cover crops. An Orange Park Acres resident has also offered manure from her horses to help revitalize the soil, Penn said.

Orange Home Grown, Chapman plant seeds for Old Towne Farm

Megan Penn (right), executive director of Orange Home Grown, talks to board member Nedra Kunisch (left) and Vice President Glory Johnson outside the Orange Home Grown Education Farm on N. Lemon St. (Photo by Daniel Langhorne)