- 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.
- Contributor: Joseph Nosrat-CSUCI Student Guest Blogger
4-H Student Farm is an after-school program that has inspired students to engage in healthier eating habits and learn where their food comes from. The six week program also provides an opportunity for middle schoolers to acquaint themselves with agriculture. The students follow a curriculum that touches on the agriculture industry, the complexity of good soil, importance of pollinators as well as the practices of planting and harvesting.
When asked about their experience with the program, students had this to say...
“I loved the planting and outdoor activities, my favorite subject we learned was the one about pollinators. I wish I could come back next year.”--Morgan
“My favorite part of student farm was the planting outside, and I enjoyed learning about pollinators. I look forward to coming back next year.”--Destiny
“I thought the pollinators were interesting and it's cool that some only fly at night. My favorite thing to do was the cooking activities, I can't wait to come back next year.”--Louie
Twelve students from Ventura Unified School District participated in...
- Author: Susana C. Bruzzone-Miller
Joseph obtained an Associate Degree at Mt. San Antonio College. He was on course to become a civil engineer when he found his true calling for communications in a public speaking course. A transfer student to CSUCI, Joseph chose a Bachelor of Science Communication major with emphasis on the Environment Studies. Living in Ventura County Joseph began to connect the importance of agriculture with the environment “and the copious opinions associated with agriculture”. In his final semester, Joseph is honing his communication skills in advanced course work—environmental conflict and resolution course encourages students to mirror both sides of environmental conflicts without bias. And a collaboration innovation and teamwork course places groups of students to work in local non-profits.
Upon graduation in May 2019, Joseph is interested in pursuing a job with the National Parks Service or The Nature Conservancy. Long-term plans include furthering his education in graduate school. Joseph believes “there is a future in the environment and that future begins with communication along with resolving contrasting opinions”.
His spring internship at HAREC will put Joseph's public speaking and communications skills to good use. Joseph will be working along-side staff and volunteers in the 4-H Farm Field Trip and Student Farm programs to deliver agricultural literacy, nutrition, and sustainability concepts to youth ages Kindergarten to 8th grade. Joseph will also be a guest blogger for Hansen News.
- Author: Susana C. Bruzzone-Miller
Imagine turning kitchen leftovers into an indoor garden and at the same time reinforcing concepts of recycling and reusing. Kitchen Scrap Gardening does just that!
HAREC is preparing for 2019 education season. This spring a new second grade classroom outreach lesson will roll out. The Kitchen Scrap Gardening lesson shows youth that some vegetable scraps that might otherwise end up in a compost pile can actually grow into new plants. Education Specialist II, Gwyn Vanoni, organized this new literature based lesson and received rave reviews from teachers and over 100 students Los Primeros School in Camarillo, grades K-2nd.
The lesson does not require much in the way of supplies. Scraps of scallions, lettuce, bok choy can be grown and harvested with just a pair of scissors in the kitchen. Carrot tops will regrow an edible, delicate garnish and celery can be harvested and replanted several times. Add paper pots, a bag of soil and some spray bottles and you have the makings for a classroom or after school garden lesson.
As a wrap-up, students will review that some plants can be re-grown without a seed and ponder the benefits or recycling some kitchen scraps rather than throwing them in the trash.
4-H Classroom Outreach--Farm to School lessons delivered at the school site is available county-wide. Visit HAREC for more information on lessons offered. Over 2600 K-5th grade youth are reached each year; lessons are delivered by trained volunteers and staff.