Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Week 11 at Food What?!

We started out the second-to-last week at FoodWhat?! with the human-knot ice breaker. Everyone stood in a circle facing each other and grabbed the hands of two other crew members across from them.  We then twisted and contorted in order to untangle without letting go, making it back into a circle.  If it sounds was.  The crew took a couple tries but finally came out de-knotted!  (In our financial literacy workshop later, we used the tension of being tangled as a metaphor for debt, and our final success and liberation from the knot, as a metaphor for budgeting.)

Next order of business was planting potatoes and sunflowers.  We forked the bed, added compost, raked it flat, dug trenches, and planted our potato seeds (which are halved potatoes).

With the potatoes in, we planted sunflowers and gave them a nice deep watering.

After finishing in the field we headed to the kitchen to start working on our meal.  Sundara, Kalyani, Emily and Esther did a great job chopping some pretty amazing looking Chioggia beets.

At the same time Jose and Maria chopped onions and parsley while Carlos zested lemons!

Abby then taught us how to fold phyllo dough and we combined feta, kale, lemon zest, greens, parsley and onion to make a delicious filling.

While the spanakopita was baking along with the beets, we engaged in a workshop on "financial literacy".  We learned about not spending more money than we earn or have, discussed how to best budget our money to save for short and long term goals, and chatted about debt and our futures. We practiced making a budget by listing our average monthly spending and earnings and figured out how much money we would need to save on a monthly basis in order to reach our financial goals.

Finally we gathered around the kitchen table and dug into a delicious meal of baked beets and spanakopita while sharing our successes from the day.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Week 10 at FoodWhat?!

This week the FoodWhat Crew drove five miles up Highway 1 and met at Freewheelin' Farm to get some experience on an 8-acre production farm! Run by two local farmers, Kirstin and Darryl, Freewheelin' Farm provides organic fruits and vegetables to local restaurants, has a CSA (farm subscription program), and is in the Scotts Valley Farmer's Market.

The youth started off their time at the farm by planting pumpkin and winter squash seeds, which will be harvested in the fall.  FoodWhat is growing 300 pumpkins out there to be used for the fall Harvest Festival.  Using a seed depth equasion learned earlier in the program, we planted seeds twice as deep as they are long, at an interval of every foot.

We then headed to the lettuce beds.  Abby explained how both Freewheelin' Farm and the Central Coast in general are known for the highest quality lettuce! We worked along the beds, dividing up into teams of two.  We pulled out weeds to make room for the young lettuce starts to grow and tried not to get stung by stinging nettles!

After finishing up our work in the fields we sheltered ourselves from the wind by gathering in the farm's awesome yurt for a workshop on 'Straight Talk' which is a format of direct communication where you offer "positives" and "improvables." Doron emphasized the importance of offering feedback or communicating in a conversation in a direct and kind manner, using details to explain the positives and improvables.

Doron then invited up youth to practice this technique in a role play with him.  Youth role played conversations with teachers, parents, other youth, and more.  To wrap up, each youth gave themselves Straight Talk for their job in the field work today; gave themselves Straight Talk for their performance in the internship over the last 10 weeks (in detail); and then offered Doron and Abby Straight Talk on their job performance throughout this internship, sharing out positives as well as what could be improved.

After finishing in the yurt, we moved to Freewheelin's awesome outdoor kitchen.  We harvested some onion and garlic from the farm then worked together in the kitchen to cook up some delicious pesto pasta with fresh veggies.

Fortunately there were opportunities for seconds (and even thirds!) as we cleaned up and discussed our triumphs for the day!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Week 9 at FoodWhat?!

It's Week 9 at FoodWhat?!

                For the icebreaker this week here at FoodWhat, Doron told a story, and each time he said the word "potato," everyone had to try and grab the finger of their neighbor! Practicing our reflexes got us warmed up for the field work today. First we planted a bed of pepper plants that will be used in the salsa for next year. Next we prepared two new beds by loosening the soil, adding compost, and mixing it in. While Doron finished interviewing students for the upcoming summer job, the rest of us planted dragon beans and green beans in the freshly prepped beds!

Violet and Steve planting the young pepper plants!

Chris gathering compost for the bed prep.
(Right) Cindy raking the bed nice and flat.

Edgar planting seeds.

              After a lot of hard work in the fields, it's workshop time! The workshop was called "What you think, what you drink--Youth Dollar Power."  We brainstormed the effects sugar has on our bodies, learned how to read a nutrition label, and then using a teaspoon for measuring, we were able to learn how many grams of processed sugar exist in the most popular youth drinks such as Arizona, Monster, and sodas. It's visually striking to see by volume how much of the most popular drinks are straight sugar.  We discussed all the names for sugar you might find on an ingredient label.  Then we taste tested some affordable, accessible alternatives.  The punch line came when Doron asked how many of the youth vote.  While most youth did not raise their hands, Doron offered an alternative.  "Each one of you vote every day.  Every time you spend a dollar you are voting--you are using your power.  What do you want to be voting for?  As for drinks, what do you want to be voting for in your body?"  It him home.

For our end of the day cooking, we made potato pancakes! After grating the potatoes, and mixing them in with fresh farm eggs and other ingredients to make them stick, they're ready for the pan!

We ended this productive day sharing "triumphs" while munching 
on the pancakes with ketchup and homemade salsa!

Good Times features FoodWhat as Best Justice!

Packed with hands-on food education and youth empowerment, FoodWhat caught the Good Times attention, earning the title of Best Justice in April's "Best Of" issue. Check it out!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Week 8 at Food What?!

Week 8 at FoodWhat?!

We began week 8 with a trust exercise called "Lighthouse." In pairs of two, each person was guided through a maze of pots, blindfolded using only their partner's words for guidance.

After our warmup, everyone got in three groups and finished building layers on the compost piles from last week while Doron interviewed individuals for the summer job.

Doron interviewing Damien for the summer job here at FoodWhat?!

As the interviews continued, the crew planted onions! Sarah (above) placed onion seedlings in evenly spaced out rows while Gage and the others (below) followed closely behind planting seedlings.

The Media--Are You Getting Played?

Following the planting and compost work, Doron directed a workshop on the Media to bring awareness to contemporary advertising techniques and stereotypes. With a handful of real advertisements to examine, everyone participated in breaking down methods companies use in advertising to target consumers--especially youth.

Finally it's time for food!

After a long morning of hard work and great discussion, it's time to make veggie tacos! Dave and Gage mixed masa, salt, and hot water to make the corn tortillas while everyone else chopped up veggies to cook. With beans, rice, tortillas, and a stir fry of veggies all cooked up, we each made our own personalized tacos! It was definitely a delicious way to end a solid day.