Spring Education & Outreach season is coming to a close. It's time to reflect on all the accomplishments:
- Be a Scientist-over 1200 visitors, youth to adult, joined UC HAREC & CE staff for a fun filled day celebrating 100 years of science and service. The May 8th activities geared for youth were also a big hit with adults. Presentations on topics such as bees, soils, gardening, and water were provided by Master Gardeners and CE Advisors. Kudos to Program Representative, Gwyn Vanoni for leading this amazing event.
- Sustainable You! Two train-the-trainers workshops were completed. HAREC and Desert REC staff as well as community partners were trained on this pertinent curriculum created by Dr. Roslyn Brain, University of Utah. A week long Sustainable You! summer camp scheduled for June will be delivered by UC intern, Chris Massa.
- Student Farm-a successful first year ended with a celebration attended by parents, siblings, school administrators, and Hansen Advisory Board members. Bonnie Weigel, Food Share, CEO presented the Center and students with a certificate of appreciation for the near 800 pounds of produce grown, harvested and donated to the food bank which serves hundreds of individuals and families in need county-wide.
- From Watersheds to Planter Beds-a Water Education Program-developed by REC sponsored intern summer 2013, this timely themed new field trip kicked off to the delight of our young visitors. Individual components of the program will go on the road as 4-H Classroom Outreach offerings in the fall.
- 4-H Field Trip, Classroom & Afterschool Outreach-with the help of our treasured volunteers, Food Corps service member and staff, spring youth outreach soared to 1999 and ages reached ranged from Preschool to 8th grade.
The season is just ending but field staff are already busy preparing the farm for new fall crops and displays. Stay tuned for posts about exciting new research projects beginning over the summer.
Ventura Unified Balboa Middle School student farmers have much to be proud of and celebrate on Friday, May 23. Led by Food Corps service member, Chris Massa, the half-acre farm at HAREC flourished. While most teens would prefer to hang out with friends on a Friday afterschool, these eager learners rode a bus to the farm. They laid irrigation, planted, weeded, harvested and donated food over 800 pounds of cilantro, chard, spinach and radishes. The produce went to the school district's farm to school program and FoodShare food bank. Weekly topics such as sustainability, seasonality, water and pest management, soils and cooking rounded out the hands-on experiences on the land.
To prepare for the media, students participated in mock interviews last week. In groups of three, they took turns being interviewed, playing journalist, and videographer. The result is an insight into the learning that occurred over the past five months. The following are selected answers to the interview questions.
Why did join the Student Farm?
"It seemed interesting and will help in the future"
"I wanted to learn how to grow plants"
"I wanted to learn about agriculture"
"Yes, that when the cilantro plant is about to die they let go of seeds"
"I learned that bees make honey"
"I learned that bees are disappearing"
"I learned that different plants grow at different times"
"I learned to appreciate nature and what it gives"
What was your favorite part of this experience?
"It helped me to eat healthier"
"Growing food that you can eat"
"Eating the food we grew"
"Cooking and eating the food we grew"
"Picking weeds and the stuff we grew"
Do you have a better understanding of farming or agriculture as a result of Student Farm?
"Yes, it is hard work just to have every day healthy food"
"Yes, agriculture is cool"
Would you recommend participating in Student Farm to a friend?
"Yes, because it shows you how to grow food and so you don't have to get it from the store all the time"
"Yes, because its really fun and you learn about plants even though its on a Friday and you could do other things"
Twenty 7th and 8th graders from Balboa Middle School are enrolled in the 17-week after-school program. Activities are led by Food Corps member, Chris Massa, currently serving with Ventura Unified where he supports the Farm to School work.
The experiential learning format of the student farm consists of a short lecture followed by hands-on practice. Weekly topics include Ventura County agriculture, food safety, soils, irrigation, plant biology, integrated pest management, seeds, sustainable food systems, nutrition and cooking. Students participate in monthly field trips to local farms and Ag related businesses to gain a better understanding of agriculture and career opportunities. Produce grown on the student farm will be sold back to Balboa's cafeteria to be used in the salad bar. Some will be donated to Food Share, a local food bank. Any subsequent profit will be used to support the program.
The students participated in all aspects of the farm from laying down irrigation to weeding the rows. Some of the January plantings are ready and the students proudly harvested and delivered 60 pounds of radishes and 7 pounds of cilantro to the school cafeteria. Ten pounds of radishes were harvested and donated to Food Share. This week student will continue harvesting spinach and cilantro.