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August is a busy month of varied activities at the Orange County Great Park’s Farm + Food Lab.  All events listed are free, and some are age specific.  Check out the offerings!

Food for Thought Film Series
Friday, August 8
Growing Cities

Time: Gates open at 6:30 pm and the film begins at dusk.
Adults and families with kids 7+ are welcome to attend.

Growing Cities is a film about urban farming in America.  At a time when so much negative attention is paid to the industrial food system, this film tells the inspiring stories of city-dwellers who are transforming their community’s one vacant lot, backyard beehive, and rooftop farm at a time. Along the way, these growers show that the urban farming movement is about a whole lot more than simply food, and that everyone can take part in creating a healthier, more just, and sustainable food system.

The Practice of Mindful Living
Saturdays, August 9 & 16
Time: 10:00 am - 11:00 am
Ages 16+ are welcome to attend.

Living mindfully means different things to different people.  This series will provide the knowledge and tools to help you reassess what’s important, rebalance your priorities, and regain control over the ever-increasing demands of your busy life. This program is produced and presented by the City of Irvine’s Community Services Urban Agricultural Programs Division in collaboration with local health care professionals.

Children’s Garden Workshop
Sunday, August 10
Technology Month: Inspired By Nature
Time: 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
All ages are welcome to attend.

Plants provide food, clothing, and shelter to all living things, but did you know that plants are also helping today’s inventors create new technologies that will enhance our lives and advance our capabilities in the years to come.  Find out how plants are shaping our future and enabling us to go where no one has gone before. This is a 20-minute sit down, interactive presentation followed by a craft and planting activity. 

Story Time in the Garden
Saturday, August 23
Bread Comes To Life, The Little Red Hen, and The Watermelon Seed
Time(s): 10:00 am - 11:00 am
All ages are welcome to attend.

A fun-filled, enchanting hour of food related stories, songs, games, and activities designed to help kids build strong language and literacy skills, and lifelong healthy eating habits.  The garden setting stimulates curiosity and imagination, and enables participants to make personal connections with the stories by seeing firsthand how fruits and vegetables are grown.  This is a structured 30-minute interactive presentation followed by craft activities. 

For additional information about the Orange County Great Park, please visit www.ocgp.org or call 866-829-3829.

The Orange County Great Park is located off the 405 or 5 Freeways at Sand Canyon and Marine Way in Irvine. Admission to most park events is free; parking for special events is $10. For more information call (866) 829.3829.



Sneak Peak at Solar Decathlon 2015 – Zero-Emission Vehicles

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015 will highlight sustainable transportation with the addition of a new contest category – Commuting – which is designed to demonstrate how clean energy can power not only houses but also lifestyles.

“For Solar Decathlon 2015, we want to challenge teams further by requiring them to power not only their energy-efficient house but also their transportation,” said Richard King, Solar Decathlon director. “The addition of the Commuting Contest expands the competition from a house to a household and demonstrates the power of clean energy lifestyles in and beyond the home.”

Vehicles used in the 2015 Commuting Contest must be fully electric—representing zero-emission transportation to complement the net-zero houses. All vehicles used by the teams must be commercially available; have four wheels; seat at least two individuals side by side; and be licensed, registered, and insured. Vehicle-to-building integration solutions must be aesthetically pleasing, functional, and convenient.

U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015

We are pleased to announce that the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon will return to the Orange County Great Park in 2015. This award-winning program challenges collegiate teams from across the nation and around the world to design, build and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive.

Solar Decathlon 2015 will be held October 8 – 18, 2015 with competition houses open to visitors from 11am – 7pm daily on eight days over two weekends:

  • Thursday, October 8 – Sunday, October 11, 2015
  • Thursday, October 15 – Sunday, October 18, 2015

This is your opportunity to tour the highly efficient, solar-powered houses designed, built, and operated by the Solar Decathlon collegiate teams.  Talk to the students, gather ideas, and learn about energy-saving features that can help you save money.  (During the remaining dates the Solar Decathlon village will be closed for competition activities.) 

The 18 collegiate teams selected to participate in Solar Decathlon 2015 include:

  • California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
  • California State University, Sacramento
  • Clemson University
  • Crowder College and Drury University
  • Missouri University of Science and Technology
  • New York City College of Technology
  • Stanford University
  • State University of New York at Alfred College of Technology and Alfred University
  • Stevens Institute of Technology
  • University of Florida, National University of Singapore, and Santa Fe College
  • The University of Texas at Austin and Technische Universitaet Muenchen
  • University at Buffalo, The State University of New York
  • University of California, Davis
  • University of California, Irvine; Saddleback College; Chapman University; and Irvine Valley College
  • Vanderbilt University and Middle Tennessee State University
  • West Virginia University and University of Roma Tor Vergata
  • Western New England University, Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá, and Universidad Tecnológica Centroamericana
  • Yale University

Solar Decathlon 2015 teams have begun a two-year process to design, test and build solar-powered, highly energy-efficient houses that combine affordability, innovation, and design excellence.  This time, teams will be challenged further by requiring them to power not only their energy-efficient house but also their transportation.  We will follow their progress from now until the fall of 2015 when the teams reassemble their houses on the competition site at the Orange County Great Park.  Mark your calendar now and plan to attend! 

For more information, please visit their website.

Great Park Visitor Center Dedicated

On a chilly morning in late December, both current and former members of the Orange County Great Park Board of Directors gathered to dedicate the Great Park’s Visitors Center Pavilion and honor the elected officials and the community and business partners involved in delivering the facility to the public.

Current Great Park Board members participating in the ceremony included Chair Jeff Lalloway, Vice Chair Christina Shea, Director Larry Agran, Director and Irvine Mayor Steven S. Choi and Director Beth Krom.  Former Great Park Board members in attendance included former Irvine Mayor Sukhee Kang, Bill Kogerman, Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido, and James “Walkie” Ray.

The new 4762-square-foot Visitors Center Pavilion is adjacent to the Great Park Balloon; it features a large lobby, restroom facilities and office space for Park staff.  The facility provides a welcoming first stop for those looking for flights on the Great Park Balloon, rides on the Carousel or more information about Park programs and activities.  Park visitors will notice a special feature of the building – approximately 1,000 tons of El Toro Stone  (pieces of the demolished concrete runways from the former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro) were used in the construction of the Visitors Center Pavilion.  The runway pieces were used to create a gabion retaining wall made of stacked stone-filled gabions tied together with wire filled with El Toro Stone on the south side of the facility.

The Visitors Center Pavilion was constructed along with the new South Lawn Sports + Fitness Complex, which opened in September. The 30-acre expansion added four tournament-quality soccer fields, four basketball courts, the mile-long Kaiser Permanente Thrive Path, reflecting ponds and a viewing pier, giant chess sets and more to the Great Park.

Photos courtesy of Cliff Wallace, Deputy CEO, Orange County Great Park

Additional 688-acres to be developed at the Orange County Great Park

The Irvine City Council has approved a proposal from private developer Five Point Communities to build 688 acres of amenities at the Orange County Great Park over the next five years.  These 688 acres will include sports fields, a Bosque area with trails and playgrounds, Upper Bee Canyon improvements, a wildlife corridor, an 18-hole golf course, agricultural fields and trail improvements.

Through this public-private partnership between the City of Irvine and Five Point Communities, progress on the Orange County Great Park continues.  Other Great Park features already complete include the Great Park Carousel, Farm + Food Lab, Kids Rock Playground, Walkable Historical Timeline, Palm Court Arts Complex, South Lawn Sports + Fitness Complex, and Historic Hangar 244.  Hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over Southern California enjoy the Orange County Great Park’s array of recreational and educational opportunities, including panoramic views from the iconic Great Park Balloon that rises 400 feet in the air. 

With its approximate 1,300-acre master plan, the Great Park is the centerpiece of the redevelopment of the publicly-owned portion of the 4,700-acre former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro.  The Orange County Great Park is located at Sand Canyon and Marine Way, and can easily be reached by the 5 or 405 freeways.

Great Park News Archive


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