Tuesday, June 28, 2011

FOODWHAT?! Strong Start to Summer 2011: Opening Week

Greetings Readers! It's summertime in Santa Cruz! The sun is shining, the veggies are germinating and a brand new FoodWhat?! crew has stepped onto the farm. For Summer 2011 we have a motley crew of twenty-four hardworking teens, eager to learn job skills, grow in confidence and maturity, and develop skills in sustainable agriculture. These fresh faces hail from many surrounding high schools, including: Natural Bridges, Costanoa, Pajaro Valley High, Highlands, Star Community, and Delta High. Each crew member has a unique background and story to tell, and brings their own piece of personality pie to the farm. From all the laughter, chatter, and team building of the opening week, it's obvious this is going to be a summer to remember. This is one awesome group of teens who aren't afraid to get their hands dirty and take on new responsibilities as mature young adults.

Planting Seeds...

The summer started out with an opening ceremony. FoodWhat?! program leader, Abby Bell, gave each crew member a sunflower seed to plant and encourage them to use the seed as a symbol for the dreams and goals they wish to accomplish this summer. Some crew members had goals to save up their paychecks and put the money to good use. One teen hoped to use to money to travel to Brazil for the world cup, some wanted to save for college, and help support their families. Others wanted to use the summer to develop new skills in leadership, maturity, and farming.

Break the Ice and Build a Crew...

The Blob! Team members link arms and try to capture other players as a giant chain. This game involves lots of running, tripping, and laughter.
The first week meant a lot of strange faces for the FoodWhat?! crew so we played some crazy games and did some team building exercises. “The Sheet” was a name game in which two people stood on opposites side of a sheet, without knowing who was on the other side. The sheet was dropped, and the two facing one another attempted to shout the other’s name first.

Jose Rameno hops across toes during the ice breaker game, "The River."

"The River was a game that really stumped the crew and forced them to combine ideas and come up with a game plan. Junior staff member, Natasha Riordan, made an imaginary twenty foot river and told the crew they all had to cross BUT each person could only step into the river twice. After stubborn groans about the impossible task, the FoodWhat?! team finally made it out of the river together... relatively unharmed.

Digging In...
FoodWhat?! had an intense first day on the job, breaking ground for garden beds under the hot sun. It was sweaty, dirty work but the team managed to keep smiling and do some serious damage. One group cleared out piles of brambles and skimmed the tough soil for future planting. The other crew shaped a hillside for garden beds for the flower business that will take off in late summer.

Irma Patino rakes up brambles to make way for new garden beds.
The crew cleared a truck full of weeds and brambles. Jacques Jackson, Jose Rameno, and Angel Chisholm load the weeds into the truck bed.
Tommy Lopez and Abel Johns shape beds for the upcoming flower business.


Top: CC Parsons eats veggie chili with green chili cornbread.
Bottom: Josh Lozoya and Angel Chisholm cook quesadillas packed with greens and veggies!

After hard work its time to chow down on a delicious, veggie packed, home grown meal prepared by the FoodWhat?! crew. Nutrition and cooking are a big part of the work day. The group makes healthy meals out of the food they grow and harvest themselves. The crew is really enthusiastic about cooking and are pretty impressed with themselves when they make such bomb gourmet meals!

Monday, June 27, 2011

2011 June Photo-of-the-Month

Early June. 52 powerful youth successfully complete the FoodWhat Spring Internship. Last day. Farm fresh veggie pizzas--our wheat--our sauce--our veggies. Big smiles and a sense of accomplishment.
Isaiah Rodriguez (16): "Over the last 12 weeks I've learned a lot about raising your own food. I didn't really cook that often, so being here and succeeding in making actually good food is pretty cool. And I was able to be here every day so I'm getting a full check and getting that full check means I succeeded in doing this job well."
Edwin Sosa (16): "I got to show who I really am and that you can have your ups and downs. After this internship I'm a more responsible person and a nice guy to be around at work."

To hear more, click here:

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Food,What?! Spring 2011

Food What?!, Week 12

The last week of FoodWhat?! Spring, 2011, we baked pizzas, planted tomatoes, made resumes and said our farewells. The day started with an Icebreaker known as the Farm Olympics; a three-legged, then wheel-barrowed race between interns.


After the competition, we went to plant tomatoes on the farm. The new rows will feed future FoodWhat interns. The young plants were placed in the soil up to their first branch, to prevent infection of the many small hairs along their stalks.There were dozens of tomatoes to pant, but with many hands the work went quickly.

Then, we picked lettuce planted in the beginning of spring. The garden was full of leafy lettuce, which we cut and rinsed to take home. We moved on to prepare the pizza dough. We mixed flour into sticky dough, then broke that into lots of small lumps. We each took a piece and began rolling, smashing, and re-rolling them into neat spheres. A baking tray was filled with the pizzas-to-be and the dough was left to rise.


While we waited we learned about the importance of keeping a good resume to apply for work. As an example, we broke down our activities at FoodWhat?! into short, understandable statements, that explained our work experience and abilities. We talked about ways to impress employers by listing our skills, accomplishments, and personal interests. Soon we had resumes ready for typing up and taking to a workplace.


The day came to a close with pizza pies. We spread the dough flat on cornmeal, to prevent sticking, then added tomato sauce from last season's plants, fresh veggies from the farm, and a sprinkling of cheese. The pies were slid cold into the FoodWhat wood-burning oven, and pulled out hot greasy and delicious. We received spiffy FoodWhat?! T-shirts, Cookbooks with all the season's recipes, paychecks, and for some a reminder to work at the UCSC farm over the summer. We high-fived and celebrated a season of hard-work and growth.