- Author: Rose Marie Hayden-Smith
Nearly two tons of fruit and vegetables grown at UC's Hansen Agricultural Research and Extension Center (HAREC) in Santa Paula have been donated to Food Forward and the Ventura Unified School District (VUSD), destined for children and families.
Some of the vegetables – planted by volunteers and farm staff - became available when UC HAREC's farm field trips were canceled due to COVID-19. Other vegetables were harvested from the student farm located at HAREC, a partnership with VUSD and the city of Ventura. Kale and lettuce at the student farm were planted by youth from DATA and Montalvo schools.
Every fall and spring, volunteers from the UC Master Gardener program propagate seedlings for schools, bundling them into variety packs of vegetables and herbs, which are given to schools with gardens. Because of COVID-19, plants were given to schools for direct distribution to families. Ventura Unified School District staff partnering in this effort include Kara Muniz, Director of Food and Nutrition Services; Ashely Parrish Decker, Nutrition Educator, who runs the Student Farm; and Alise Echles, RDN.
Additional fruit and vegetables were harvested from HAREC's citrus demonstration area, the site's educational gardens and the farm grounds.
UCCE's education program manager Susana Bruzzone-Miller said, “We are saddened that spring field trip season is cancelled and miss the sound of children delighting in harvesting, sometimes for the very first time. But, it warms my heart that our field trip garden can help feed so many families in need.”
John Antongiovanni, farm manager, worked with the farm staff to organize the harvest. He said, “Working together during this difficult time is very rewarding.”
Food Forward is a gleaning organization that helps residents turn the surplus produce grown on their property into a nutritious food source for local communities. Rick Nahmias, founder and executive director, indicated that the Food Forward Backyard Harvest team remains active, and may be reached via phone at 805.630.2728 or email.
- Guest Blogger: Eleanor Israeli-CSU Channel Island Student
Lastly, maintenance! It's important to be consistent with your garden, a little love will go a long way. Make sure you check your garden at least once a day because some crops need more water than others, especially on a hot day. Remember what plants need to grow: seeds, soil, water, sun, air, and just a little bit of love.
Why is water important?
Where does water go when you flush it down the toilet?
What can you do to conserve water?
We end the week with a very important topic-water! How much clean water do we have on earth to share with humans, animals, agriculture...? How do plants use water? How is water transported to our homes and how much is wasted by leaky pipes? Fun activities touch on these questions and much more....
Day 4- Food
What is local food?
Why buy local food?
What is a food mile?
Today we explore where our food comes from and delve into our complex global and local food system....How far does a pineapple or a cashew travel before it gets to your plate? Does it travel by boat....train...truck? What grows in California? What are Ventura County's top crops? And what about packaging of food items is it sustainable?
What is the difference between renewable and non-renewable energy?
Why is energy important?
How can we conserve energy?
Energy day is always popular and delicious! After contemplating journal questions and discussing renewable and non-renewable energy sources, the fun begins! The big solar oven worked hard to bake brownies. Campers crafted personal solar ovens out of pizza boxes and made that delightful camping tradition…s'mores! Even though the sun didn't cooperate this year, the s'mores were still amazing. Solar ovens are enroute home to hopefully, have another go on a sunnier day. Pedal power was a plenty on the blender bike. The farm fresh Strawberry Kale Smoothies were a big hit.
Strawberry Kale Smoothies
1 cup orange juice
1 cup kale
1/2 cup fresh strawberries
1 frozen bananas
Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth.