Monday, April 30, 2012

Week 7 at Food What?!

Week 7 at FoodWhat began with a lesson in composting. We learned learned that to grow healthy plants, we need healthy soil.  In order to produce a healthy compost pile, we layered greens (such as food scraps or cover crops), browns (like straw and wood chips), air, water, and manure, which micro- organisms turn into new soil.

Marcela, Brandon, and the rest of the FoodWhat Crew hopped right in and built two new compost piles!  The piles were dubbed "Smelly Swag" and "Marie".

We then migrated to the shade of the canopy, where Doron gave a presentation on the ins and outs of getting (and keeping) a job.  We discussed applying for a job, tips for interviewing well, language and communication in the work place, practiced calling in late or sick, shared our own personal stories, and reflected on the benefits of calendars and time management. 

After practicing some difference scenarios of appropriate work place communication, we headed to the kitchen to whip up some long anticipated veggie omelets.  Everyone plucked some choice leaves of rainbow chard from the garden and the crew set to work chopping and scrambling eggs, broccoli, chard, garlic, and Monterey Jack cheese. 

Conner was clearly enjoying learning some new cooking skills...who says omelets are only for breakfast?!

We finished off the day with triumphs.  The FoodWhat Crew were also invited to apply for the summer job, which if selected will allow them to delve further into the world of job training, empowerment and food justice.  The youth then received the sunflower seeds they had planted several weeks back, which have since sprouted and begun to grow! Finally, several members of the crew received achievement certificates for having perfect attendance during the first half of the program; Sindy, Marcela, and Conner were among those awarded!

April 2012 "Food, What?!" Photo of the Month

Where Are They Now?

(Left Side) Jose Reynado--FoodWhat 2010
YES! YES! YES! This is a shot of Jose finishing the 56 mile Green Fondo Bike Ride this weekend having raised $520 to support youth in FoodWhat. Jose shared with the other riders and guests his motivation for riding: "I wanted to give back to FoodWhat and make sure that other students have the opportunities I learn new things, to learn how to grow my own food, to learn English, to feel confident public speaking, and to eat healthier." Jose is graduating from Costanoa High School this June and is heading to Cabrillo College this Fall. Big heart in that guy.

(Right Side) Sal Vasquez--FoodWhat 2011, and Chris Little--Produce Manager for Westside New Leaf.
Next time you're loading up your cart with the beautiful, local produce at the Westside New Leaf, look for this guy.
Last month Sal applied for a very competitive position with the Produce Department at New Leaf, and he got the job! According to Sal, FoodWhat helped him change tracks. After successfully completing the FoodWhat Spring Internship and then the Summer Job Training Program, Sal co-managed our Gault Farm Stand last Fall. At the farm stand he learned proper produce handling and display, customer service, and money handling and accounting. Sal invested in himself at FoodWhat and it's paying off. This is his first job and he's saving money to pay his way through Cabrillo this Fall.      He's come a long way and we're proud of him.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Week Six at "FoodWhat?!"

Sunshine at last!

                   We started off Week 6 here at FoodWhat with a great game called "Look Up, Look Down" before taking advantage of the beautiful weather and prepping farm beds for planting!

                  Working hard in the sunshine, we learned all the steps it takes to properly prepare the plant beds for a rewarding yield. We used specific methods called skimming and forking to remove the cover crops and loosen the soil. Then we mixed in organic compost, leveled the bed by raking, and planted seeds to successfully transform two full beds into a great environment for growing healthy plants!

Chris and Xavier planting lettuce and cilantro 
seeds in the newly prepped beds!

              What is a Food System?
 Next, Doron explained the process that food undergoes from the farm to our plates, in a workshop about food systems. In two groups we used teamwork to place cards representing different stages of the food system in their logical order. Afterwards, everyone participated in a little play that allowed us to explore the energy and resources involved in different kinds of food systems!

                  After a long day of hard work, it's time sushi time! (Right) Krystal seasons the sushi rice while everyone else slices fresh veggies, yam and tofu to put in their rolls.


We wrapped up the day eating our delicious sushi, spending time reflecting in our journals, and sharing our triumphs of the successful week!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Week Five at FoodWhat?!

We started out a stormy and chilly week here at "FoodWhat?!" by learning about how whole wheat flour is produced.  We worked together to "thresh", "winnow", and grind wheat that we grew last season.

After grinding the wheat into flour, we then mixed it with yeast, salt, and water, turning the flour into dough for pretzels later that afternoon.

After leaving the dough to raise in a warm place, we gathered with Abby to learn background story behind the grains that most of us consume on a daily basis.  Abby explained how white bread differs from whole wheat bread in that the wheat used to produce white bread has been stripped of all its nutrients.  By contrast, whole wheat bread contains protein, fiber, vitamins, and oils.  In order to further illustrate the differences, Abby pulled out some boxes of some common grained foods including cereal, granola bars, and mac and cheese. We were all pretty surprised by the lack of whole grains in the ingredients.

We then decided it was time to shelter ourselves from the chilly spring afternoon and we migrated to the greenhouses to transplant young leeks and mix up some a new soil mix for propagation.  Connor, Brandon, and Deonte worked with Doron to produce a light and airy mix of new soil.

Meanwhile, the rest of the youth worked with Abby to replant 3-5 leaks per cell in each flat. 
Just as it started to rain we headed to the kitchen to work on crafting pretzels out of our home made dough.  After shaping pretzels into traditional, and not-so-traditional shapes, Abby boiled them in hot water with baking soda, and then popped them in the clay oven to bake.  

We finished off the day with writing in journals, our day's triumphs, and with full stomachs and smiles all around. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Week Four at "Food, What?!"

Week Four here at Food, What?!

We kicked off week four with an icebreaker called "Common Ground" to get us all warmed up for the day! Afterward, we headed off to the kitchen to prep our end of the day meal of fresh cornbread and soup before our busy day.

In the kitchen, Cindy and Leslie mix together a recipe for delicious homemade corn bread while the others chop up a rainbow of colorful veggies from the garden.

Violet dices fresh red cabbage and greens (right) as Edgar and Javier stir in and heat up the ingredients for the savory soup! After prepping the food for later, it's time to finish potting up in the green house! 

After the green house, Doron led everyone in a public speaking workshop. We discussed the characteristics of good public speaking and then each took turns practicing by sharing with the group how to make our favorite sandwich! We ended the day sharing our triumphs of the week and snacking on our fantastic veggie soup and fresh homemade cornbread!