an article by Kathy Gottberg (8/12/09)

Most residents of the Coachella Valley are aware that agriculture plays a valuable role in our local economy. Many also know that grapes, citrus, dates and a number of other vegetables are grown locally. However, fewer know that it is very difficult to actually find and purchase many of the fruits or vegetables that are grown here. Fortunately, a company named Coachella Valley Home Grown™ plans to change that in the near future. After all, given a choice wouldn’t you rather eat locally grown?

Coachella Valley Home Grown™ is the brainchild of local businesswoman and broadcast journalist Patti Patane.Patti grew up in the Coachella Valley and throughout the years developed a love and appreciation for the vast agricultural richness of the east valley. In late 2005, after 19 years in broadcasting information and educational television programs, Patti began producing a series of documentaries highlighting the 60,000-acre agricultural industry in the east valley. During the research and production of those programs, Patti came to realize many of the difficulties and challenges facing our East Valley neighbors. Once aware of those problems, Patti became inspired to a find a solution that would improve the conditions and lives of the people she had met.

Beginning in February of 2009, Patti launched the television series entitled Coachella Valley Homegrown™ two times each week on KRET-TV Ch#14 every Saturday and Sunday morning at 7:00 a.m. The programs are currently sponsored by RDO Equipment: John Deere. The feedback from the television programs was immediate. People began asking where they could buy some of the produce discussed in the programs. Attempting to answer those inquires, Patti quickly learned that most of the locally grown product was wrapped up, boxed and shipped out of the valley for distribution throughout the country by produce brokers out of Los Angeles. That efficient distribution system has resulted in depriving all valley residents of the safest, freshest and healthiest foods available in the marketplace today—locally grown food.
Patti took the challenge to the next step and created a company named Coachella Valley Home Grown™ Direct. The plan for this company will be to broker and deliver locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables directly to our local stores and food sellers. Not only will this company broker locally grown food to stores and businesses in the valley, a coordinating company will be operated by many of the disenfranchised people that Patti met and connected with in the East Valley. As part of Patti’s vision, she will not only serve the people of the Coachella Valley byoffering nutritious and delicious local fruits and vegetables, she will also be helping many hard working neighbors in the east valley help themselves to a better life.

Currently, Coachella Valley Home Grown ™ Direct has two local grocery chains ready to purchase and support this enterprise. Once in place in the stores they will prominently display the company logo that will identify the farmers that grow the food. That list of local stores, restaurants and other food sellers is sure to grow in the very near future once more produce managers and restaurant owners become aware of the availability of such product. According to Patti, the price will actually be very competitive because of reduced produce brokerage fees and lower transportation costs. If the logo is not displayed in the store where you shop, every one of us can help this project by asking the produce manager or restaurant owner there to consider offering this beneficial product in the future.

Patti is working nonstop to educate people about locally grown food and garner support from a number of mid and eastern valley advocacy groups to help move her project forward. While most residents in this valley will benefit because of finally having access to local, more sustainable food, Patti sees it as fulfilling a much bigger mission. As Patti says, “this is all about creating jobs and futures for the low income Eastern Valley residents.”

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