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WesternU College of Graduate Nursing students bring chickens to Lopez Urban Farm

by Rodney Tanaka

April 8, 2024

Read 1 mins

The chickens have come home to roost thanks to the community health efforts of Western University of Health Sciences College of Graduate Nursing (CGN) students.

Left to right: CGN student Allen Berberian, Stephen Yorba, founder and executive director of Community Partners 4 Innovation, and CGN student Omoregie Osawaru. (Steven Webber, WesternU)

CGN Master of Science in Nursing-Entry (MSN-E) students Omoregie Osawaru and Allen Berberian developed plans and raised money to build a chicken coop and bring chickens to Lopez Urban Farm in Pomona. WesternU and Lopez Urban Farm held a grand opening for the chicken coop on March 24, 2024, with Junior Farmers and their families participating in egg hunts, egg races, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“This coop serves as a symbol of increasing accessibility of healthy food for the citizens of Pomona, somewhere that historically hasn’t had good access to healthy food,” Berberian said. “So even though these fourteen chickens aren’t going to produce enough eggs to give to the whole city of Pomona, hopefully the education we give in the pamphlets and what you can see here at the farm today will inspire you to grow your own food at home, grow your own vegetables, your own fruits and maybe even have your own chickens.”

CGN students provide educational programs to Lopez Elementary School students every fall as part of their community health rotation. (Steven Webber, WesternU)

Every fall as part of their community health rotation, 10 CGN MSN-E students provide educational programs to neighboring Lopez Elementary School students at Lopez Urban Farm. The farm recently introduced animals on site, including goats and rabbits. Berberian and Osawaru developed the Community Chicken Coop Project for their Quality Improvement Project requirement to earn their master’s degree. The project includes funding approved by CGN Dean Mary Lopez, PhD, MSN, RN, and support from CGN Associate Professor Ruth Trudgeon, DNP, RN, and CGN Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer and Assistant Professor Marsha Guillaume, MPH.

WesternU CGN and Community Partners 4 Innovation, which runs Lopez Urban Farm, have a longstanding partnership that dates back a decade. The two entities collaborated on Urban Mission and now Lopez Urban Farm.

Omoregie Osawaru and Stephen Yorba cut the ribbon on the chicken coop with help from Junior Farmer Leonardo Prado. (Steven Webber, WesternU)

“Every season we have a new cohort of (CGN) leaders who develop rich curriculum around community wellness and urban agriculture to educate our young people, and our greatest mission at Lopez Urban Farm is education,” said Stephen Yorba, founder and executive director of Community Partners 4 Innovation. “We say we are educating the next generation of eco-conscious human beings and that’s what we need to be doing. This 3-acre urban farm is an educational center for kids because we need to learn to think differently. We need to learn to behave differently with our food and the planet and the way we treat ecosystems. And we thank WesternU, who is a great resource here in the city of Pomona. These are graduate nurses who have chosen to do their social justice work in the community on a farm and we’re really thankful for that. I hope these nurses take what they learned here on the farm and take that to the bedside.”

The plan is to bring a total of 14 chickens to the farm.

“They just started to lay some eggs. As spring comes and summer comes, they’re going to be ramping up and they’re going to be producing fresh eggs for our community,” Yorba said.

Osawaru and Berberian passed out pamphlets that contained information on growing herbs, vegetables, fruits and raising chickens at home. They gave out eggs to families who attended the grand opening. They are also asking farm visitors to fill out a survey.

“We want to understand the barriers that are keeping attendees from tending their own garden,” Osawaru said. “Our goal is to introduce the concept of growing your own food and self-reliance to families and to Junior Farmers. We want to know the barriers to having self-sustaining food, whether it’s space, resources, knowledge or motivation.”

The survey will illuminate the needs of Pomona residents, and CGN plans to provide what the community is requesting in the fall, Guillaume said.

“We want to involve students in fighting food apartheid, teaching the community when the food system fails you, what are you going to do about it,” Guillaume said. “Tackling food justice is intentional and very much inclusive. This effort requires community members who truly care about Pomona to provide access to the right things so residents can live in a healthy manner.”

We very much understand that the chickens we have here will not end world hunger or Pomona hunger, Guillaume said.

“The purpose here is to reflect on how do you do this on your own? Students want to look into policies if people come here, is this feasible to do in an apartment or house?” she said. “We want to see how to influence policy to allow people to have chickens and to also have a little garden box in their own home. The purpose is to create a level of self-efficacy and provide confidence so Pomona residents have a voice in their journey of being healthy.”

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