- Author: Susana C. Bruzzone-Miller
Today is the first day of spring. It’s a busy time at the UC Hansen Agricultural Research and Extension Center (UC HAREC). Garden volunteers and farm staff worked countless hours preparing the farm over the winter. The fields and gardens are flourishing and the sounds of children fill the air. Yellow school buses are a welcome sight at the Center. Over 1700 Ventura County youth grades K-3rd will participate in the 4-H Farm Field Trip and Classroom Outreach Program that kicks off in March and runs through the end of May.
Specially trained and dedicated volunteers work alongside staff to deliver fun and hands-on agricultural based lessons. For many Kindergarteners, this is their first time on a farm. Getting a glimpse of where food comes from, planting a seed and learning what makes it grow are unforgettable experiences. Older students delve deeper into plant growth and development, discover the important role pollinators play in our food system, and learn about the rich agricultural county where we live.
Picking and sampling farm fresh vegetables such as beets, carrots, sugar snap peas, and lettuce are favorite activities with all ages and a great way to introduce MyPlate, the newest USDA guide to healthy eating choices, and encourage daily physical activity. What can be better than getting your hands dirty, smelling the rich Santa Paula soil, and eating vegetables you helped harvest? Children aren’t the only visitors. Over 300 parents and teachers will visit, learn, and munch alongside youth.
The cost of buses makes a trip to the farm prohibitive for many schools. When visiting the farm is not an option, lessons delivered in the classroom bring the farm to life. The 4-H Classroom Outreach Program is an opportunity to learn about agriculture without leaving the school grounds.
Yes, it’s a busy and exciting time at UC HAREC.