The CalFresh Healthy Living, UCCE Riverside (CFHL, UCCE) has been working with the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indian Tribe to advance policy systems and environmental change (PSE) and the health of the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla people since 2013. The spring planting in the A'Avutem (elders) garden in 2020 was very successful, however further activity in the garden was on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Tribe's Community Wellness Committee continues to meet virtually with the Cooperative Extension Advisor Emerita, Chutima Ganthavorn and the CFHL, UC staff, Andra Nicoli and the CFHL, UCCE Riverside team (Claudia Carlos, Jackie Barahona, Esmeralda Nunez) to implement PSE initiatives which are also the goals the ACORNS project (Advancing California Opportunities to Renew Native health Systems), funded by CDC through California Rural Indian Health Board (CRIHB). On March 22, 2022, Esmeralda and Jackie successfully organized another round of spring planting in the A'Avutem garden, with assistance from multiple partners including the Torres Martinez Natural Resources Department, UCCE Riverside County Master Gardener Program and Riverside San Bernardino County Indian Health (RSBCIHI). Eleven tribal members, including youth and seniors, gathered and planted chili peppers, bell peppers, onions, cherry tomatoes, tomatoes, squash, basil and chamomile. Our CFHL, UCCE Riverside team is thankful for the opportunity to be a partner with the Torres Martinez tribe in building health awareness, education and activities, and for organizing this garden event.
“It was just a great experience learning and understanding we as Indian people still have our connection to mother earth. The ability to know how to plant and make something grow is an amazing thing that I never really appreciated until now.”
~Gary Wayne Resvaloso Jr, Youth Advisor
The CalFresh Healthy Living Program at UC Cooperative Extension (CFHL, UCCE) in Riverside County has two garden projects with Riverside Faith Temple and the Community Settlement Association in Eastside Riverside. In early 2020, we received Small Sparks Neighborhood Matching Grants from the City of Riverside, Community and Economic Development Department to expand and continue our garden activities. However, these projects were on hold for over a year due to the pandemic closures. With the recent reopening of the community, our gardens are growing again.
The Riverside Faith Temple organized a planting event on Saturday, May 15th, 2021. The event drew a crowd of 23 people, mostly church members, who came out to spend 3 hours helping to assemble two new garden boxes and plant a variety of vegetables including tomatoes, corn, zucchini squash, eggplant, onions, edamame, pole beans, cantaloupe melons, bell peppers, strawberries and basil. UCCE Master Gardener Michael Fisher was also there to give advice about what to consider before planting. The garden now has six raised beds and is growing in community support. Pastor Duane Sims in partnership with CFHL, UCCE started this community garden in June 2019 with the hope that it will be a platform for the church family and neighbors to learn and grow together in healthy living and friendship. On the day of the event, it was nice to see old friends, make new friends and to work together to build and grow this garden. The enthusiasm of this group was great, and they were a bright light on an otherwise gray May morning.
At the Community Settle Association (shown below), the CFHL UCCE team led a group of seven volunteers to help clean debris, pull weeds and plant tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, yellow crookneck squash, bell peppers, corn, onions, serrano chiles and parsley on April 28th and May 3rd, 2021. Although the pandemic had put a pause on this garden, it did not dampen the spirits of the group. Another event is being organized on May 26th to bring the garden families and volunteers back together to celebrate restarting of the CSA community garden that has been in existence for 7 years. The community continues to value this garden and the opportunity to grow their own food.
- Author: Chutima Ganthavorn
- Contributor: Jackie Barahona
Science Night is an evening of hands-on science activities for students and their families to do together. Science Night is an opportunity for parents to visit their children's schools to celebrate student learning. Since the coronavirus pandemic has prevented this type of school gathering this year, some elementary schools in Coachella Valley Unified organized virtual Science Night events using the Zoom platform to keep families engaged. Being a community partner that promotes student health and wellness, the CalFresh Healthy Living, UC Cooperative Extension (CFHL, UCCE) was invited to participate. Our CFHL, UCCE Educators: Jackie Barahona, Daisy Valdez, Itzel Palacios-Sanchez and Esmeralda Nunez presented ‘Plant Anatomy' which is adapted from the Eat Your Plants lesson from the TWIGS nutrition and gardening curriculum. Students and families had fun on Zoom learning about edible plant parts and the benefits of eating vegetables and fruits. When asked what they took away from this session, one student commented in the chat "I learned that some vegetables are considered fruits" and another said "I learned more about plants and that we can eat them." The event was held on December 3, 2020, jointly for the Cesar Chavez and Valle Del Sol Elementary Schools, and on December 9, 2020 for Saul Martinez Elementary.
Our CFHL, UCCE team is thankful for the opportunity to be a partner in the virtual Science Night events and is pleased with the positive feedback from the Principal at Saul Martinez:
“I want to take a moment to thank the entire team that made our very first Saul Martinez Virtual Family Science Fair a huge success! Our Saul Martinez students and parents were engaged in critical thinking on the scientific process and I have received much positive feedback from our families! At the end of the event, one student sent me a private message in the zoom chat, “This is fun, when are we doing science night again?” That question right there equals success!! I hope we can do this again in the near future!”
- Author: Claudia Carlos
- Author: Chutima Ganthavorn
- Editor: Michele Tabor
With technology, the traditional brain break in the classroom has gone digital! Over 650 teachers participated in the Brain Breaks in the Virtual World session at the Alvord Unified Distance Learning Virtual Summit on August 3, 2020. CalFresh Healthy Living (CFHL), UCCE Riverside County teamed up with Bethany Rivera, Wellness Lead at Loma Vista Middle School, to provide this training for TK through 12th grade teachers. The Virtual Summit hosted on Google Meets featured teachers teaching their peers - about live online learning strategies and socioemotional distance learning. The CFHL, UCCE team's presentation included four virtual physical activity breaks (brain breaks) demonstrations for lower elementary, upper elementary, middle and high school. The team created a teacher resource list with links to virtual PA videos for the four grade levels.
For any student (and adult), sitting in front of a device to do distance learning is a lot of mental work and students may need a break in the middle of their virtual classes. CFHL, UCCE team showed real life examples of brain break activities appropriate for different age groups. Out of the 230 teachers who responded to the Mentimeter poll, 88% said they are very likely or likely to schedule a physical activity break during their virtual lessons. The Riverside CFHL, UCCE team is grateful for the strong partnership with Alvord Unified (AUSD) which led to this training opportunity and the support of Patti Suppe, CAHPERD President and past AUSD District Wellness Lead. We are hopeful that Alvord students will greatly benefit from the resources shared at this session.
Aldrich Tan, Special Education Teacher at McAuliffe Elementary School shared feedback after the training: “You were amazing! Teachers in the stands loved it and they loved the opportunities to stand up. One teacher said it was the best session of the day.”
- Author: Chutima Ganthavorn
- Contributor: Nicole Ogosi
A small edible garden has started in the Eastside neighborhood of Riverside with funding from the City of Riverside's Small Spark Community Development Block Grant. Also assisting with the garden are the CalFresh Healthy Living team from the University of California (CFHL,UC), as well as UCCE Master Gardeners, Michael Fisher and Thurman Howard. The UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Advisor helped Riverside Faith Temple apply for the grant to start a community garden earlier this year (2019). The small grant was used to purchase materials and supplies for four garden beds and a garden shed.
Help was also provided by the Inland Empire Job Corps youth who came out three times to help clean up the lot and put together the garden shed. It took the Job Corp youth and Pastor Duane five hours to assemble the shed in about 100-degree weather in September. They had not planned on working that long that day, but the IE Job Corps team demonstrated great team work and perseverance and got the job done. The four small garden beds are just the first step. The lot, which is about 1.5 acres in size, will need a lot of assistance and time to turn into a community garden. The Faith Temple is currently looking for a grant or donations to help pay for a water meter. If you know of any funding that might be able to help with this project, please email the UCCE Advisor at email@example.com.