- 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.
- Author: Susana C. Bruzzone-Miller
Cooking is one of my greatest joys. So, when Master Gardener lead, Susan Carter asked me to teach a Cooking with Herbs class for fellow gardeners last year, I jumped at the chance. I was even more thrilled to be invited back for a command performance.
A previous MG continuing education focused on how to grow herbs. This class was all about prepping and storing fresh herbs, methods for drying herbs, when to use fresh vs dry herbs and cooking demo of easy recipes. By far the best part of the April 17 two-hour class, was tasting. Participants learned how to make and sampled herb and fruit infused waters, cilantro pesto, basil vinaigrette, lemon-thyme tea bread and three herb green bean salad. Over 30 VC Master Gardeners participated.
Green Bean & Herb Salad
2 lbs. fresh green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 Tbsp. each fresh lemon juice and Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup each chopped fresh basil, chives, cilantro
1 cup sliced red onion or shallot thinly sliced
¾ cup walnuts, chopped
½ cup feta cheese, crumbles
Salt and pepper to taste
- Rinse vegetables and herbs with cold water
- Bring large sauce pan of lightly salted water to boil. Drop green beans into water and cook until bright green and slightly softened—about 2 minutes. Drain and plunge into cold water to cool. Drain and pat dry.
- In a small bowl whisk together lemon, mustard, oil to make dressing.
- In a large bowl, combine green beans, herbs, onion. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add lemon dressing and toss well. Before serving add feta cheese and walnuts.
Source: Sunset Magazine. Adapted from a recipe featured in January 2014
- 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.