The first true community to be developed in the Norco Valley was known as “Citrus Belt” in 1909: prior to this future, Horse Town USA was home to scattered alfalfa farmers, cattle ranchers, coyotes, rabbits and rattle snakes.
Prospective homeowners were told that, with a bit of hard work, they too could turn a ten-acre piece of rock hard land into a Paradise by cashing in on the citrus boom just like Corona to the south. Unfortunately, the Valley was prone to frost and the Santa Ana Winds: meaning what lemon or orange trees didn’t freeze got knocked flat by gale force winds.
But, the early pioneers banded together, didn’t give up, and began to plant seasonal crops such as berries, potatoes, and other crops that were cultivated before the frost season and too low to the ground to be blown over.
In 1920, Rex Clark purchased the struggling community and in 1923 renamed it “Norco”. His goal was not to simply create an agricultural suburb of Corona, but a standalone township with a vibrant downtown complete with general store, restaurants, movie theater and other shops, surrounded by small lot, weekend getaway homes followed by ranches and farms producing grapes, berries, lettuce, and hogs. But, very quickly it became clear that Norco’s future rested with chickens: seems the climate was perfect and the industry thrived.
The early and very tough residents banded together to build the community and took on floods, drought, bad roads, and, eventually became famous for their “Norco Spirit”.
The Origins of the Ecological Agriculture Training & Cultural Center are planted in the alluvial soil of Southern California and the deep agricultural heritage that thrived there for centuries. Our program took root and grew out of Wayside Farm School. Launched in 2014, Wayside Farm School was an In-Custody, Education-Based Farming Partnership operated by Five Keys Schools & Programs and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
Wayside Farm School combined farm-based educational opportunities that reconnected individuals, communities and the land. The success of the program resulted from a strong partnership between the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, Five Keys Schools & Programs and Community Partners throughout Southern California.
The Mission of Wayside Farm School was to provide a hands-on, farm-based learning environment that emphasized sustainable and organic agricultural practices, personal & community transformation, local food systems and direct-marketed farm products
The Vision of the Wayside Farm School was to create education-based organic farms inside and outside of the custody setting. These farms would focus on ecologically sustainable, socially just and economically sound agricultural practices. Through our intensive in-custody experiential education program and our future out-of-custody incubator farm programs, Wayside Farm School students would be prepared for industry-aligned careers in agriculture, or would be ready to create their own sustainable agricultural operations.
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