On North Lemon Street in Old Towne Orange there’s a vacant lot covered in bare dirt.

But soon there will be a bounty of vegetables, fruit trees and herbs flourishing there, along with an outdoor teaching space where the community can learn about backyard agriculture and experience the delight of farm-to-table gardening.

Thanks to a unique collaboration between Chapman University and the non-profit community group Orange Home Grown (OHG), the Lemon Street Community Farm will launch later this month at 356 N. Lemon St. in the City of Orange. Chapman will provide the lot rent-free and OHG will plan and manage the educational farm that will be dedicated to teaching the values and know-how of producing locally-grown food.


Celebrating the new partnership between Orange Home Grown (OHG) and Chapman University at the Lemon Street Farm are, from left, OHG Board Member Doug Turner, Chapman Vice President of Community Relations Jack Raubolt, OHG Founding Member Nedra Kunisch, OHG Founding Member and Executive Director Megan Penn, Chancellor Daniele Struppa, OHG Board Member Paula Soest, OHG Founding Member Martha Turner and OHG Board Member Glory Johnson.

A central part of the farm will be an outdoor teaching area where classes, workshops and farm to table education dinners will be held. Community members will be invited to work the farm, but individual plots will not be available for lease. Produce grown in the demonstration plots will be donated to local food pantries or possibly used by local chefs in special seasonal promotions. Eventually OHG hopes to include programming led by other groups, as well, from Chapman food scientists to local student groups.

One of those chefs might be Executive Chef and Haven Gastropub owner Greg Daniels, who is also on the OHG Advisory Board.

“I’m excited to see our community gaining such a valuable asset. Having an urban community farm in the neighborhood, where we can get locals involved in the process, and bring exciting opportunities for education on the subject of food and agriculture, is an absolute dream come true for Orange,” Daniels said.

Like its Saturday market, volunteers and community support will be relied on to get the garden up and running and continue its maintenance. Supplies, donations, elbow grease, strong backs and all manner of helping hands are being sought by OHG. A blueprint of the site has already laid out plans for row crops, berry bushes, fruit trees, compost and worm bins, a potting table, storage shed, bike parking and seating benches.

At approximately 8,000 square feet, it’s smaller than many urban farms springing up across the country, but it’s enough to show people what they can do with a home garden, be it a large yard or a planter on a balcony, said Megan Penn, Executive Director and Co-Founder of OHG.

“We’re not saying you have to feed your family just by what you grow, but putting your hands in soil and growing something is good for you. It’s healthy. It goes into our whole mission of trying to keep our community healthy. We want to help provide resources for people to do that,” Penn said.

Plenty of work is ahead, but the fruit of those labors will plant more than just this year’s crop of tomatoes, beans and squash.

“By mid-May we’ll be on site, opening the doors. I hope people will be bring down their shovels and their gloves. I’m excited to meet the neighbors, see how this affects them and see how they take it on as their own,” said Penn. “We really want to make a difference in where we live. That’s what’s really important to us.”

To learn how you can help out at the Lemon Street Community Farm, contact Orange Home Grown
or by visiting its information booth at its
Farmers and Artisans Market