Sustainable Food Supply and Urban Agriculture

Garden Club

The City of Claremont and its school district strongly emphasizes on the importance of sustainability education. With encouragement from the Schools Action Group, several schools have built vegetable gardens that are attracting much student interest as well as providing healthful food for the schools. Gardens can provide a lot for a community, such as beauty, food, a place to relax, a place to socialize. Appropriate gardening would also help reduce our landscape water requirements. Sustainable practices also include rain harvesting, mulching, composting, recycling and reusing materials.

Since July of 2012, the official Garden Club of Sustainable Claremont was formed. Meetings are on the second Wednesday of each month at the Napier Center at Pilgrim Place (660 Avery Rd). During these meetings, community members are able to talk to others in the community about gardening, landscaping, socializing, and share sustainable and gardening ideas and interests.

Tree Action Group

In 2013, the Tree Action Group (TAG) formed by a group of Claremont residents to ensure the protection of the urban canopy. TAG was formed in response to the city’s plans to maintain the hardscape in a neighborhood called The Club by removing established trees. This success prompted the continuation of their efforts. The Tree Action Group objectives are summarized as followed: (1) to learn about trees, their maintenance, and importance to the local ecology; (2) to educate Claremont residents; (3) to organize residents, community groups, and institutions; (4) to review policies and practices of Claremont in regard to the urban forest.

TAG can be found at: https://claremonttrees.wordpress.com.

Their website provides a number of resources, including a Municipal Forest Assessment. The assessment serves as an inventory for the city’s 19,980 trees. There are 245 species of trees in Claremont, equating to .57 trees per capita. The most abundant tree species is the Crape myrtle, totaling to 9.6% of all trees in Claremont. Using this inventory, the Municipal Forest Assessment ranks each species based on importance (determined by quantity, leaf area, and canopy cover).

TAG

The economic benefits of trees are also measured in this assessment. Claremont trees are responsible for $2.8 million in increased property values. Energy saving benefits from shade on nearby buildings totals to $245,397.

https://claremonttrees.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/claremont-urban-forest-assessment-07292014.pdf

Air Quality and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

freeway sign

However unfortunate, the City of Claremont encompasses an area that includes two freeways: Interstate 210, and Interstate 10. These two freeways, while crucial to transportation of goods and services and also to personal transport, impact the total amount of greenhouse gases and particulate matter those within the city are exposed to. Although the city can do very little to affect the freeways, they still exist within the environmental context of the city and affect those that are closest to the freeways.

The city of Claremont uses other methods to target greenhouse gas emissions. To target greenhouse gas reduction, the city of Claremont uses the Community Home Energy Retrofit Project (CHERP) to reduce the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by making residential buildings more energy efficient. Since Claremont is mostly residential, homes are responsible for 80% of our total energy consumption. By relying on fossil fuels to power the city, this raises the level of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and contributes to climate change and global warming. CHERP’s goal is to improve the energy efficiency of homes in the city by retrofitting 10% of its community.

Food waste is also an important factor to look at in order to improve the sustainability of Claremont. Currently 60% of waste goes to landfills and 40% is recycled. Food waste currently comprises an estimated 30% of the solid waste going to landfills in Claremont. Methane is generated in landfills when waste decomposes. Methane is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted in the United States. Landfills are the third largest source of carbon emissions. Discarded waste and leftovers should be properly recycled rather than abandoned in a landfill. Currently, Pomona College has a small composting operation and Claremont McKenna College is using food dehydrators to reduce food scraps by 90%. The goal would be to develop local programs to recycle food scraps, unused produce and other bio-degradable products so that these materials can be used for local soil regeneration or other useful purposes.

Wildfires also are a risk the city faces every summer. These fires threaten homes, recreational areas, and negatively affect air quality in the days/weeks afterward. Many foothill cities have ‘fire days’ or ‘smog days’ when air quality is too bad for young children to walk to school or be there. Many city programs increase emergency/disaster awareness such as the Emergency and Public Safety Alert Program, classes and training for a Claremont Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) that shows participants how best to act in case of emergencies and disasters.

http://epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/gases/ch4.html

http://claremontenergy.org

Environment and Public Health

The City of Claremont is an affluent suburban community, located in Southern California along the foothills. The interstate 10 freeway serves as the southern border for the city while the northern boundary creeps into the more natural foothill area. Though the southern half of the city is composed primarily of single family homes, lush canopies are still present throughout the city. This blog post will focus on two aspects of the environment and public health: (1) air quality/greenhouse gas emissions and (2) urban agriculture.

Air Quality and Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Looking at Claremont through an environmental lens allows us to understand the city’s successes. While most of the built environment in Claremont is residential, much of it is also open space and wilderness areas. The amount of carbon sequestration the ‘City of Tress and PhD’s’ provides for itself and surrounding cities is significant. Take for example, the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park, a 1,620 acre expanse of nature that originally opened in 1996 and expanded in 2008. This park and the other 21 city parks are crucial in providing environmental services not only to the city but for the region in general.

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Climate change is a threat to public health and the sustainable community of Claremont. Transportation is the second leading source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions (Department of Transportation). In the past century, the earth’s temperature has risen by 1.4 degrees and continues rising due to greenhouse gas and carbon dioxide emissions (Nasa).

An increase in global temperature can have negative effects on public health and biodiversity since it causes rising sea levels, population displacement, flooding, disruptions to food supply, and an increase in infectious diseases. As a foothill community, Claremont’s natural landscape and residents face some of the immediate consequences from climate change. Heatwaves are a threat to the Southern California region and can cause heat-related injuries. Other threats such as droughts and dry conditions can cause wildfires and place stress on trees and landscape plants. Trees absorb excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.  As a city known for its trees, climate change is a threat not only to the culture of the community, but also to the environment as well.

A few residential units in the hills have also taken advantage of water-wise landscaping with the use of succulents and desert landscaping. However there are still many opportunities for many homeowners to upgrade their homes with new energy efficient appliances, landscaping, lighting and windows. Like water-wise landscaping and other sustainable upgrades, energy-efficient windows eventually pay for themselves through lower heating and cooling costs, and sometimes even lighting costs.

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Public transportation is a major contributor in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Claremont. Public transportation such as bus transit, van pool, commuter rail and light rail transit significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions per passenger mile than private vehicles (Department of Transportation). The City of Claremont offers many public transit services such as the group van service, the Foothill Transit, Metrolink, and Pomona Valley Transportation Authority. Throughout the city, there are bus stops at every corner. The train station is located in the heart of Claremont. This allows the majority of the population in Claremont to have access to the Metrolink. The Pomona Valley Transportation Authority is a dial-a-ride program that is accessible to the community while Foothill Transit is a bus system that serves a large portion of Los Angeles County.

It is also worth mentioning that there are plans for a Gold Line station for the City of Claremont. The station is stated to be built north of the existing Metrolink station. By connecting the “bedroom community” to the growing network of regional rail, carbon emissions will see a reduction due to the lessened vehicular use.

Urban Agriculture
Food is a major factor in the health and sustainability of Claremont’s community. It is important to provide healthy food options, especially for children, elderly and low income residents. The availability of healthy foods will directly impact the physical health of the community. Consuming locally grown foods will also help reduce greenhouse gases since they are less processed and require less refrigeration or freezing, and are not transported long distances. The City hopes to increase education and awareness efforts to the community on the benefits of eating locally grown, organic foods. Other goals include promoting home grown produce and creating organic farming programs at Claremont schools.

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The City of Claremont has a Garden Club and recently hired its first Community Garden Coordinator that works with interns from the college. Many efforts encourage gardens to use less water, pesticides, and educate on sustainable practices in rain harvesting, recycling, composting, etc. Claremont also offers home gardening support, Back yard Produce Co-op, and classes on local foods, gardening, permaculture, and composting. All of these programs are also offered at the Armstrong Garden Center, a nursery in the city that provides educational programs and resources regarding gardening to the community. Claremont also works with its schools to provide school gardens.

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Jacklyn Ma
Ryan Murphy
Matthew Ramos
Kathie Yang

Cited Works
Department of Transportation, (2015). [online] Available at: http://www.fta.dot.gov/documents/PublicTransportationsRoleInRespondingToClimateChange2010.pdf

Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet, (2015). Secrets from the past point to rapid climate change in the future. [online] Available at: http://climate.nasa.gov/news/649/