Wednesday, July 27, 2011

2011 July Photo-of-the-Month

Saturday July 16th. Rooted in Community Regional Youth Summit hosted by FoodWhat and the Farm and Garden Apprentices.

100 urban and rural youth from the Bay Area and Watsonville build community on our farm.

Three take homes (1) candles, salves, goat cheese, or some other farm-based product, (2) a full belly from the farm-based meals we made together, (3) and most importantly an understanding that each one is part of a larger movement for food justice.

Joining all the other youth in making personal comittments, Camri, a youth from the Growing Youth Project in Alameda, wrote "I will commit to gaining knowledge and passing it on to the younger generation--eat healthy--exercise."

To hear more, from our Youth Summit check out the Youth Summit Blog Post

Leave your email in the little form in the right hand column to receive the Photo-of-the-Month.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Rooted in Community Regional Youth Summit!

Morning ice breakers!

On July 16th, the FoodWhat?! crew invited 100 teens to the farm for the Rooted in Community Regional Youth Summit to unite and educate fellow youth in the food justice movement. Teens traveled from surrounding areas, representing many youth organizations who are all about FOOD: how its grown, where it comes from, and the power young people have to change our food systems for the better.

We met some cool folks from the Growing Youth Project in Alameda, Farm Fresh Choice and Berkeley Youth Alternatives of Berkeley, FRESH Crew from Hayward, Pie Ranch of San Fran and Pescadero, Veggielution of San Jose, and Jovenes Sanos of Watsonville. The FoodWhat team learned a lot from these other organizations so make sure to check them out! The CASFS Apprentices on the farm also worked with us all day, leading workshops and sharing knowledge with all the participants.

From top left, counter-clockwise: 1) FoodWhat leader, Abby Bell and Irma Patino help wash up after the big pizza picnic. 2) FoodWhat member, Salvador, meets a fellow youth in the food justice movement. 3) Abel Johns, all smiles, eating pizza. 4) Cloth squares with commitments to food justice written by the teens. The pieces will soon be sewn into a quilt! 5) FoodWhat boys measure how much sugar is in energy drinks during a workshop.

This Rooted in Community Regional Youth Summit--aka Youth Day--was all about teens coming together and realizing their capacity to make change in the food justice movement. Youth Day proved that there are a lot of passionate teens who are not afraid to speak up about these issues and make positive change in their communities. It was really awesome for the teens, from diverse backgrounds and communities, make connections and exchange ideas.

The day opened with a welcoming introduction and ice breaker games to get the teens mingling. A few FoodWhat crew members stepped up and taught the newcomers all about FoodWhat's mission and role in the community. FoodWhat members practiced their leadership skills by leading groups in many workshops and activities. Workshops included goat cheese making, terrarium building, candle making, ice cream creations, fast food jeopardy, and more!

We also spent the day making farm fresh pizzas together from scratch, culminating in a giant pizza and pie picnic at the end of the day. We spread out colorful blankets under the pear trees and dug into the delicious pizza the youth made. There were endless slices for all and pies brought by Pie Ranch. The day was a huge success with the help and partnership of the CASFS Farm Apprentices and all the teens who are down with the food justice movement.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

BLAST!! : Week 3

From left: 1) Kayla Kropp uses an electric drill to assemble planter boxes at the Teen Center.
2) Thairie Ritchie and Angel Chisholm ready to double dig flower beds. 3) Sam Gouveia and Jacques Jackson help one another out with construction.

Every Wednesday the FoodWhat crew participates in a BLAST! A BLAST is an activity in which the FoodWhat crew visits a local school or youth organization and helps them along in developing their own organic garden. The crew builds gardens from scratch or restore existing, dilapidated ones that just need some love and care. During these BLASTS the FoodWhat crew share their knowledge and skills with the community and help others produce
their own food.

Last Wednesday, the crew went out to the Santa Cruz Teen Center located at the Louden Nelson Community Center. The Teen Center is a safe recreational space for teens to study, eat, and hang out. There is even an alternative high school that holds classes there! The directors at the Teen Center thought a garden would be a useful learning tool, so they called up FoodWhat?! for some help.

The team rolled up, ready to work. The task was to construct three, 8 x 4 foot planter boxes, so they carefully drilled the planks together, filled them with soil, and installed irrigation hoses. They worked like a team of professionals and got the job done with ease. Now whenever they pass the Teen Center, they can get a glimpse at their work and realize their tangible impact on the community.

Last week's BLAST was at Natural Bridges High School. The garden there was overgrown with weeds and needed some serious work, so the FoodWhat crew stepped in and cleared those beds! To show their gratitude, students at Natural Bridges High School prepared veggie burritos for the crew, with vegetables picked right out of the garden.

The finished product! Quality work from the FoodWhat crew.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Photo by Jan Mangan

Bioneers: Re-imagining How to Live on Earth in
Ways that Last

The Bioneers conference, October 14-16 in San Rafael, CA, will feature Doron Comechero, founder of Food What, and Brower Youth Award winner Hai Vo on the rights and power of youth; Nikki Henderson, Executive Director of People’s Grocery, and other young food justice leaders, Anim Steel of Real Food Challenge, and Yoni Landau of CoFed to share ideas on healthy food as a basic human right and to discuss strategies to empower people to create access to nourishing food.

Bioneers will also address colony collapse disorder with Biodynamic Beekeeper Gunther Hauk and pollinator-friendly garden designer Kate Frey, and genetically engineered crops with a presentation and an organizing meeting led by Andrew Kimbrell of the Center for Food Safety with GMO expert Jeffrey Smith.

Other, presenters and events include beginning farmer networks Greenhorns, Grow Food, and Organic Valley’s Generation Organic; a farm tour led by the Agricultural Institute of Marin and the Bioneers annual seed exchange preserving biodiversity.

Dr. Elaine Ingham of Rodale Institute will present the latest science on the environmental benefits of organic agriculture. Paul Stamets’ astonishing work on how mushrooms restore ecosystems is simply brilliant. Check out the complete listing of the food and farming programming at the Bioneers conference:

Come join the “revolution from the heart of nature.”

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Reaching out at the Homeless Garden Project: Week 2

Here's the low down of how a typical FoodWhat?! week works...
Tuesdays and Wednesdays the crew is at the FoodWhat farm located at the UCSC farm and garden.
Thursdays we work at the Homeless Garden Project in Santa Cruz.
Fridays we head out to Freewheelin' Farm.

Each day is an awesome and different experience. Let's talk about

From left: 1) Don Lessard, an HGP employee, gave helpful guidance to the FoodWhat crew and worked with them side by side. 2) Abel Johns clears the way for garden beds. 3) Mason Melander bunches lavender for the CSA business.
4) Ana Sumano piles weeds into her wheelbarrow.

Every Thursday the FoodWhat crew goes out to the Homeless Garden Project to lend a hand on this unique Santa Cruz farm. The Homeless Garden Project is a program that provides job training and transitional employment to previously homeless individuals. The trainees of the program learn valuable job skills, gain confidence, and reach out to fellow community members during their time at the garden. Sound a bit like what FoodWhat has to offer?? (wink, wink). The mission of the Homeless Garden Project strives to:

- Bring Together people from throughout the community in the beauty and security of their certified organic garden.
- Practice and Teach principles of economic and ecological sustainability through classes and hands-on experience
- Provide homeless men and women job training and transitional employment

FoodWhat is lucky enough to work with the HGP and form new friendships with this community. Our first day at HGP, the trainees welcomed us and expressed thanks to the FoodWhat crew for all their hard work and youthful energy. When unfinished tasks pile up at HGP, FoodWhat and HGP trainees work together to get the job done.

HGP trainee, Michael Curry, laughs with FoodWhat crew during daily stretches.

Opening day of HGP, a seasoned trainee gave genuine advice to the crew of teens. He described the immense impact the homeless garden had on his life, at a time when his future seemed rocky. He told us how his work at the garden gave him a strong sense of purpose and confidence in his skills. The group of trainees will be valuable comrades to the FoodWhat crew and will show the teens how to get on a meaningful track and be be positive, pro-active leaders in their communities.

From top left: Sam Gouveia, Erik Bucio, Kayla Kropp, and Joan Enriquez on lavender duty for HGP.

It was really awesome to see the crew work so well under the direction of the trainees. They helped hack down weeds five feet tall, skim garden beds, plant onions, and cut hundreds of lavender bunches. The skill and unity of the FoodWhat workforce was an impressive sight to see, and by the end of the day they had made friendships with a crowd they had never gotten to know before. Hopefully the crew will overcome any negative stereotypes about those who have been homeless; because as the trainees have showed us, they are knowledgeable, skilled, and hilarious individuals who are pretty similar to the FoodWhat crew themselves.

From left: 1) Natasha Riordan clears weeds for a future flower bed. 2) Jacques Jackson plants onion seedlings. 3) Edgar Garcia helps Kayla Kropp build her own planter box out of old wooden palettes. Garcia was skilled in construction and helped the rest of the FoodWhat crew in building their boxes.

Link to Homeless Garden Project Resources: