The need for fresh, organic food is a genuine concern in Santa Barbara. There are many in the community who have little access to nutritious foods. Thankfully, there are organizations and businesses that are stepping up to help provide more fresh food.

The Alpha Resource Center of Santa Barbara has been fortunate to collaborate with several organizations whose missions are to use resources to provide healthy food in the community.

The Santa Barbara Permaculture Guild and the Santa Barbara Organic Garden Club, led by Larry and Linda Saltzman, have been instrumental is using Alpha’s large garden area to provide food for Alpha participants.

Alpha now has three vegetable gardens, about 40 fruit trees and has been planted according to Permaculture design where all space is used efficiently. For instance, beans are planted underneath the trees, so that the area under the trees is growing food, and the root system of the beans provides nutrients for the soil, replenishing it as both grow together. Another technique is zone gardening — using space near the kitchen for growing vegetables and herbs. A sensory garden and pumpkin patch are in the works.

Common Vision, an organization whose mission is to have food growing in urban and suburban schools and organizations, planted many of the fruit trees in Alpha’s garden

Alpha has been looking for ways to use a large field on its Cathedral Oaks property and was chosen to be part of the Communities Take Root online contest sponsored by the Dreyer’s Fruit Bar Corp. and the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation. Dreyer’s and the Tree Planting Foundation will provide 25 orchards to 25 organizations across America this year. Alpha is the only organization in Santa Barbara in the competition.

Receiving the trees would increase Alpha’s ability to provide nutritious meals to participants. Many of the folks at Alpha have jobs, engage in community service, and want the opportunity for more employment. This orchard would provide another work program for many of its participants.

The Alpha Resource Center is in fourth place and needs to stay in the top five organizations until Saturday, when Dreyer’s announces the winners. Click here to vote for Alpha — once a day, every day — and support Santa Barbara in growing more food.

— Marisa Bourke is an outreach coordinator for the Alpha Resource Center of Santa Barbara.