Where Abilities Grow
When imagining what their son Joshua’s future could potentially look like when he aged out of the public school system as a person with Autism, Erick Unger and his wife Kara brainstormed ideas on what they could do to create opportunities for him. After realizing how much Joshua enjoys backyard gardening, they dreamed up a plan to build a farm where Joshua could develop his skills and have a career of his own. With their son’s future in mind, they sought a property that could serve as the ground for their new adventure.
Through their search, they discovered the Riverside Greenbelt, the agricultural and lowdensity residential area surrounding the Gage Canal in the Arlington Heights neighborhood, the perfect place to build a farm. A short time later, Gable Farms was born. Gable Farms is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, where the Ungers are currently working towards providing work opportunities for adults with cognitive and developmental disabilities. Opportunities on the farm will allow these adults to explore a variety of passions, including gardening and animal care.
Over the past few years, the family has focused on establishing their crops and creating systems and tasks that will allow future employees a flexible and safe work environment. One of the ways to create this space is by growing clean and organic crops. To do this Erick and Joshua have focused on keeping the soil at Gable Farms as healthy as possible.
"It’s important to keep cultivation as natural with the least intervention to the soil as possible. The goal is to keep the soil dynamic and as healthy as possible by encouraging healthy bacteria growth and promoting a healthy microbiome.”
To promote healthy soil on their farm and in your home, the Ungers recommend:
- Avoid using pesticides or herbicides – keeping the soil friendly to the natural predators within the ecosystem
- Encourage predator bugs like ladybugs that eat aphids
- Use compost to suppress undesirable seed growth and work as a natural weed burial
- Minimal soil tilling
The Unger Family hopes to continue growing and look forward to being able to bring others onto their farm soon.
Follow their journey and growth by connecting with their Facebook page: | Gable Farms
The City of Riverside supports existing and potential residents, who like the Ungers, have an interest in agriculture and a passion for sustainable food systems. Here, you can plant your dreams and watch them grow.
For more information on City-sponsored and community-driven programs, visit GrowRiv.com.
Find more stories about the City of Riverside in the latest edition of Explore Magazine