One of the many rewarding perks of being a FoodWhat crew member is being able to enjoy plenty of fresh, tasty and healthy eats on and off the job! Every Tuesday and Wednesday, the crew harvests and packages CSA bags (community supported agriculture) for each individual to take home. These bags of freshly-grown fruits and vegetables give the crew members a chance to share their knowledge of healthy eating and delicious cooking with their friends and family outside of FoodWhat. And what better way to feel satisfied with a week’s worth of hard work than indulging in the fruits of their labor? The CSA helps spread the joy of healthy eating to our families as well as giving each of us a fulfilling way to acknowledge the worth of hard work we put into growing the food.
We started the day off with a fun ice breaker called “Assassin.” Abby secretly selected one crew member to be the unknown killer before the crew began walking around shaking hands with one another.
The assassin scratched the hands of the people he or she shook hands with, resulting in their death. After several fatalities, the crew attempted to guess who the assassin was by popular vote. After a long game, the few remaining finally uncovered Gaelen’s secret identity as the assassin!
Then it was time to get the CSA bags rollin’! The crew started by signing up for jobs to make the process go smoothly. Part of the crew harvested radishes, squash, and broccoli while Chris and Josh took on the daring task of harvesting plums.
Gaelen and Damien washed and weighed the carrots to divide evenly amongst the twenty-two crew members. Connor and Chris thoroughly washed the freshly harvested broccoli while Selena and Crystal sprayed off the radishes for dirt-free eating.
Derek divided the produce into bags so that each crew member could take home an equal share of the day’s produce to take home and share with their communities.
Remember the third week of the summer when we practiced our bike-riding safety skills? Well that practice paid off this week as we made a flower delivery via bicycles! Knowing the proper hand signals kept us riding smoothly and safely to complete our mission. First, we all met up at the Homeless Garden Project farm as we usually do on Thursdays. Tawn from People Power (a local bike-advocacy organization) joined us on the trip to provide with with some of the organization’s bikes and to help with any technical difficulties that may arise along the way.
With our helmets on and our lesson on turn signals fresh in mind, we were off! Our first destination was a farm across the San Lorenzo River called La Semenza (“seed” in Italian!) to pick up the flowers.
With our hearts pumping and our leg muscles warmed up, we arrived at La Semenza where we met Jessy, one of the owners of the farm! Shaded by enormous avocado trees, Jessy explained the rich history of the land and how she and her fiancé cultivate it today. Previously inhabited by families of Italian immigrants, the land was used to grow a variety of food, ranging from grapes for making wine and champagne to vegetables and grains. Because each family grew something different, everything the people needed was grown at their fingertips! Now, Jessy and her fiancé live and work on the land. Both have full-time jobs so they do most of their farming on the weekends. Instead of selling the produce and flowers grown on their farm, they use it to barter! This means that they exchange their goods for services or things they need from other people. No cash involved, yet everyone benefits! The couple lives on the land in a house they built themselves using almost entirely recycled materials! Jessy gave us a tour of the farm, their living spaces, and their greenhouse bathroom! This setup definitely proved that living an eco-friendly lifestyle on a farm does not require sacrificing style or comfort!
After the tour, it was time to help out on the farm a big. Crystal, Brandon, Chris, Keyah, Damien, and Connor joined Doron in harvesting some beans. Doron pointed out that this job would have taken two people days to complete in the time that the crew helped out! While harvesting, the crew chatted about the farm. Brandon admired it so much he said he would like to live on a small piece of land someday, with everything you need so accessible.
Chris, Cindy, Selena, Derek, Josh, and Darius (FoodWhat intern) stayed under the canopy of avocado trees with Jessy and Tawn to shed the beans from the pods. This was a tedious task, but a very productive way to get some rest before another bike ride!
After some work, it was time to gear up for the ride over to El Salchichero (a local butchery) to deliver the beautiful bouquet of flowers courtesy of La Semenza! In exchange for flowers, El Salchichero gives Jessy meat from local, sustainably-raised animals. This saves Jessy about a whopping total of $500 a year on buying meat for she and her fiancé while El Salchichero gets gorgeous arrangements to beautify their shop with! And it was the FoodWhat crew’s responsibility to deliver the flowers safely. With the bouquet nice and secure, the crew rode over to El Salchichero, exercising awesome bike safety habits all the way!
Success! We arrived at the shop with every flower petal intact! With the delivery made, we cruised back over to the Homeless Garden Project farm to continue the day’s work, leaving El Salchichero looking a little more vibrant and welcoming than it did before the FoodWhat crew rolled up.