OverFlow Farms – Abhijit Rege / The Highlander

Non-profit organization, OverFlow Farms, held their first Citywide Annual “Serve Day” on Oct. 9, 2021, in collaboration with fellow non-profit, LoveRiverside. With sponsors including Aetna, New York Life, the Inland Empire Health Plan and more, the serve day saw a variety of service projects available for volunteers including a vegetable harvest and mural painting project. An assortment of cooked corn, onions and jalapenos from the harvest along with plenty of other amenities were all available to be eaten by volunteers and guests. 

Along with the harvest, the main attraction of the serve day was the Mural Project, intended mostly for younger volunteers. Clarissa Cervantes, a Riverside resident, small business owner, muralist and council member for Ward 2, led the painting of the mural. An experienced muralist of over six years, Cervantes aimed to depict the farm’s cornfields but with a more imaginative theme: a fairy garden. The serve day’s project was the first mural with many more to come in the future and Cervantes hopes that these projects will be able to bring the people of their community together and to heal and empower them through the medium of art.

Fred Stover and Rick Sanchez, partnered together to start OverFlow Farms, with Stover as president and Sanchez as treasurer. Stover had conducted philanthropic operations for over five years already, but only on a small scale. It wasn’t until late in 2019 when he approached Sanchez with the idea of starting a non-profit organization and farm. 

The name OverFlow has a significance to UCR. Sanchez has served as a college minister for 14 years at the Riverside County Church of Christ. During his tenure, the OverFlow club was founded on campus by his church students, and he served as their club advisor. The club was run by UCR students and ran for seven years as they conducted various service projects, such as helping the homeless through care packages, projects for Habitat for Humanity and other philanthropic interests in the community. When Stover wanted to partner with Sanchez and start the organization, they needed a name and settled upon using the club’s name. 

Unfortunately, UCR’s Overflow club had shut down as a result of the COVID pandemic. Due to the transition to remote learning, many members of the club returned to their homes outside of the Inland Empire, and all activities had to be shut down due COVID restrictions. In addition, the sheer length of the pandemic saw many members of the club graduating in 2020 or 2021. Though the club may be defunct at UCR, at the time this piece was published, the club has expanded to Riverside City College and is developing rapidly, and Sanchez hopes to revive the club soon for the Highlanders.  

Overflow Farms has succeeded in place of the club and continues to thrive through the efforts of students from UCR and RCC. The farm began operation in the beginning of 2020 and ran for a year in Jurupa on a small patch of land on the back of Mount Rubidoux. After a year, on Jan. 24, 2021, the non-profit was able to act upon their original plan of expanding the farm on the Riverside Community Church grounds, taking up two acres of land.

Marci Coffey of the Inland Empire Health Plan, a sponsor of the event, described how OverFlow, in collaboration with other organizations, is able to ship three million pounds of fresh produce each year to local food banks, agencies and pantries. With a mission to “heal and inspire the human spirit,” both OverFlow Farms and LoveRiverside have served as IEHP’s two strongest partners, sharing similar values and a goal to serve the underprivileged in the Inland Empire. 

On Oct. 14, 2021, OverFlow Farms received formal recognition from the California Legislation and the Office of the Mayor, acknowledging the non-profit’s contributions and impact on the community of Riverside and the Inland Empire. 

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about OverFlow Farms, you can visit their website at overflowfarms.org, or contact Rick Sanchez directly at info@overflowfarms.org or 951-902-5261. You can also visit loveriverside.org to learn more about LoveRiverside and their service days.