On October 17th, Food, What?! hosted its annual Harvest Festival! Buses of students from different schools across Santa Cruz County joined us to celebrate the season. The day consisted of a variety of workshops, activities, and healthy food.
Jose and Vicky, our two FoodWhat Youth Event Planners, noted: "We the youth at “Food, What?!” think it is important that more students should get involved in understanding their Local Food System, have an enjoyable farm experience, and create a personal connection with organic farming and healthy food."
After getting off the bus, the pumpkin patch was the first destination. Some visitors braved carrying the heftier varieties while others chose more petite ones. As the day went on, they got their creative juices flowing by carving into their selections! All 300 pumpkins were grown by the FoodWhat Crew.
The FoodWhat crew members led discussions about food justice throughout the day and educated the visitors about their personal power to make positive change in their communities. After informing them about pressing issues and explaining how the issues directly impact lives, participants voiced their opinions and posted their thoughts to the food justice wall.
Thinking requires energy, so FoodWhat made sure no one went hungry. Students tasted 3 distinct varieties of apples exploring color, texture, and flavor. While apples remain a loved treat among all age groups, the squash-sampling was a new experience for most. The students then voted on their favorite variety with Delicata taking Gold, Red Kuri got Silver, and Carnival finished last.
For lunch, the crew joined Santa Cruz City School's Chef extraordinaire Jamie Smith. They couldn't get the pizzas out fast enough--and they were LOADED with fresh veggies from the FoodWhat Farm. Jamie and crew clearly demonstrated how school lunch can be healthy as they served up the delicious, veggie-topped pizzas.
Tony co-led a workshop on the importance of drinking water. He discussed the power water has to heal everyday problems, ranging from a bad mood to a sore throat. To show our guests how great water can make the body feel, Tony refereed potato sack races! All participants truly appreciated water after their races.
And what would a Harvest Festival be without plenty of seasonal, sweet, juicy apples! At one station they made their very own apple cider and at another their own apple tarts. They cored and pealed their apples to make a delicious filling for their crusts and washed it down with some thirst-quenching juice.
Life Lab's stellar staff and UCSC interns performed a skit about making good decisions. Through a hilarious yet relevant skit, students followed the journey of two teens from high school into their adult life and discovered the role of healthy decision making (versus destructive apathy).
The guests got up close and personal with bees by looking at a glass-door hive and learning all about the various roles within the hive. To top the lesson off, everyone enjoyed samples of honey! Students even discovered how the plants bees pollinate changes the flavor of the honey they produce.
There was another workshop on fair trade foods. For most students, "Fair Trade" was a new concept. Bananas were a perfect example to explain how trade and purchasing power affects people worldwide.
Those who needed some time to thoroughly enjoy the sights, smells, and sun of the farm took a relaxing hay bale ride. The ride was also a great way to see the many acres of fields in production of fresh, healthy fruit and vegetables.
At the end of the day, students went home with new knowledge to consider next time they go to the grocery store, new language and interest in fair trade and food justice, an experiential understanding of the value of healthy food, and of course, pumpkins!