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From Dirt Cheap to Soil Rich: Land Use, Regenerative Agriculture, and Climate Resilience in the IE’s New Storage Economy

May 5, 2021 @ 9:00 am - 12:00 pm

In this convening on regenerative agriculture, we invite you to join us in envisioning a new paradigm for land use in the Inland Empire—what we are calling the “new storage economy.” Instead of our region storing smog, diesel and freight pollution, a commuter workforce, consumer goods, low-wage jobs, malnutrition, and chronic health problems, we argue that the land-rich IE should be storing health, biodiversity, water, carbon, nutrients, innovative climate strategies, food security, and Indigenous and immigrant wisdom. We center the work of practitioners, organizers, and place-based initiatives to flip the script on the “cheap dirt” narrative that has long defined the Inland Empire. We hear from six panelists working in unique areas of food systems and justice movements to create a paradigm where our region is considered “soil rich.” Join us to share ideas, knowledge, and opportunities within an interactive forum that co-creates alternatives to the status quo. All are welcome.

Register in advance for this meeting:


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  • Ali Anderson – Feed Black Futures
  • Valerie Dobesh – Indian Health Inc.
  • Joyce Jong – Riverside Food Systems Alliance
  • Team Members of Huerta del Valle
  • Susanna Kirschner – Inland Empire Resource Conservation District
  • Andrea Vidaurre – People’s Collective for Environmental Justice

Ali Anderson –  Feed Black Futures
Ali Anderson is a doula, organizer, and public health professional who has worked in harm reduction, sexual and reproductive health, and food justice for eight years. Ali graduated from the University of Southern California with her Bachelors in Science and received her Masters in Public Health from Emory University with a focus on Maternal and Child Health.

She founded Feed Black Futures after the global pandemic relocated her from farming and organizing work in Jamaica to her family’s home in Southern California. Inspired by global mutual aid and food sovereignty efforts, she saw a need to continue to work in spaces committed to dismantling oppressive systems and create support and nourishment for Black families most directly impacted by COVID-19, food apartheid, and state violence.

Valerie Cardenas – Dobesh Indian Health Inc.
Valerie Cardenas Dobesh is a Prevention Educator with the Community Health Worker Program for Riverside-San Bernardino County Indian Health, Inc. She works with the Healing Garden at the San Manuel Indian Health Clinic to teach holistic health and collaborate with The Nutrition Department and Diabetes Department on virtual presentations on the Body, Mind & Spirit.

For forty years, she lived in the San Bernardino National Forest-about 6,500 ft. above sea level. She has enjoyed managing retail nurseries for 17 years in both mountain and the inland valley. After retirement from the retail nursery business, she worked with mountain gardening clubs, which helped communities. This led her into mental health services. For many years she has studied with her Indigenous Elders and other Indigenous tribes on Native plant uses. She is a Master Herbalist and teaches classes at The Native American Resource Center at the San Manuel Indian Health Clinic in Grand Terrace, CA.

Joyce Jong – Riverside Food Systems Alliance and Senior Project Manager, City of Riverside
Joyce is a third-generation farmer and has more than two decades of experience in a variety of ag sectors. In her capacity at the City of Riverside, Joyce leads agriculture and sustainability initiatives and works with community organizations to advance public policy and a variety of program development. Prior to joining the City of Riverside, Joyce was a faculty member at California State Polytechnic University Pomona’s College of Agriculture. Joyce is an alumna of the California Agricultural Leadership Program, Class 39. She holds a Master in Agriculture & Management from UC Davis, and an MBA from California State University, Sacramento. Joyce serves as a board member for the Riverside County Farm Bureau and Riverside Food Systems Alliance.

Huerta del Valle works with community and partners around the region with the mission to bring people together to grow their own healthy organic food and through this work create sustainable community health and empowerment. Huerta del Valle operates three community gardens and multiple farm projects in the Inland Empire. Huerta del Valle also runs a comprehensive farmer training program and new farmer incubation program. Huerta del Valle’s vision is to see a region with “one garden every mile.”

Andrea Vidaurre People’s Collective for Environmental Justice
Andrea Vidaurre (she/her) grew up in the “Inland Empire” of Southern California and graduated with a BA in Global Studies from the University of California, Riverside. She has lived at the intersections of multiple issues which led her to engage in work that advances her communities’ quality of life. Over the past couple of years, she has worked on environmental justice issues throughout the Inland Empire. She is a co-founder and policy analyst of the Peoples Collective for Environmental Justice, a community-based organization focused on fighting environmental racism and finding solutions through community work.

Susie Kirschner Inland Empire Conservation District
Susie Kirschner is the Conservation Programs Manager at the Inland Empire Resource Conservation District. She holds a degree in Environmental Science and has been working at the IERCD for five years developing sustainable agriculture and forest and fire resilience projects within the Upper Santa Ana Watershed. Her work at the IERCD includes managing and overseeing IERCD’s Sustainable Agriculture Programs and The Regional Forest and Fire Capacity Program through the Department of Conservation

FMI: Please contact Susan Phillips [email protected] or Arthur Levine [email protected]

This event is supported by a grant from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.


Virtual Event
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For more information contact
Susan A. Phillips susa[email protected]; Arthur Levine [email protected]