Monday, March 25, 2013

Week Two at "Food, What?!"

The second week of FoodWhat started off with a game of Toe-To-Toe! Farmer D asked a series of questions to get to know each other while staying connected finger-to-finger, elbow-to-elbow, or toe-to-toe. Would you invite Oprah, Usher, or Shakira to a dance party? Would you rather live on the moon or under the sea? What was the best gift you ever received?

After the warmup, Abby brought out the dried herbs that we picked last week to begin making salve. We crushed the plants into a jar of olive oil and let it heat up in boiling water to allow the properties to transfer into the oil. We strained the herbs and reheated it with some honeycomb to solidify the mixture. After cooling, the salve smelled like the healing elements of the plants and was ready to soothe our skin!


Then it was time to get our hands dirty mixing the elements to make a flat mix for the propagation area. Abby explained the importance of these soil mixes to ensure the seeds get the nutrients and water holding capacity it needs. To start the mixture, we began the hard work of breaking up and sifting coco peat. Coco peat is the ground husk from coconut shells and helps the soil retain moisture. We also sifted compost to add into the mix. With a few piles of bedsoil and sand added in, we teemed up as a group to mix it to consistency!


With warm muscles after making the soil mixture, it was time to warm up our brains with a game of Fast Food Jeopardy! Our host, Farmer D, quizzed us on questions from categories of sanitation, health, nutrition, money, and farming. The questions range from the amount farmers make who grow potatoes used in McDonald's french fries, the effects fast food has on health care, and behind the scenes secrets of fast food restaurants. The answers to these questions brought up a lot of discussion and many of the answers had us squirming with disgust at the effects of the fast food industry.

A collection of kale, leeks, onions, broccoli, cabbage, and carrots  awaited us in the FoodWhat kitchen after the game for some veggie quessadillas! Abby shared her kitchen experience with some tips on cutting the different types of vegetables safely and efficiently. With all hands on deck, the veggies were chopped and sauteed in no time. The colorful combination was then grilled in whole wheat tortillas with some cheese. For a little extra spice, we used salsa made by the summer FoodWhat crew!


To end the day, we wrote letters to ourselves about our personal goals for FoodWhat, states of mind, and anything else our future selves would benefit from reflecting on at the end of the spring program. The letters will undoubtedly show tons of growth amongst us after a season's worth of hard work, learning about food justice and new ways of thinking, and many, many delicious meals.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Week One at "Food, What?!"

The Spring Program Has Begun!

We kicked off the first week of the Spring Internship program with a fresh crew of youth from all over Santa Cruz County! This year, 60 rad youth are participating in the internship program (ten more than last year!) making it the biggest season yet. Every day of the week, crews come from different high schools to enjoy the spring sunshine on the farm and gain tons of experience along the way. Each week (for the next 11 weeks) the youth crews join us to learn leadership skills, get their hand dirty organic farming, and pick up plenty of tips and tricks around the kitchen to prepare and eat delicious, healthy food.

After a long day of school, it was time to shake up and get our bodies moving with a citrus toss name game. Everybody got familiar with one another while repeating each others' names and tossing the clementine around the circle. Soon there were so many fruits being tossed around it was hard to keep up and we all erupted in laughter.

To get to know the space they would be visiting each week, Farmer D and Abby led a tour of the farm. Along the way we gathered medicinal herbs, learned about cover crops, and got to hear about the Garden of Eden of fruits and veggies produced here. We collected plantain, mallow, calendula, lavender and other plants around the farm to make salve next week. Knowing the beneficial healing properties of each ingredient, we can expect healthy, refreshed skin when this salve is ready!

After the tour, we engaged in an activity to share what each of us plans to bring to the FoodWhat community. Everybody shared something they care about and brainstormed group expectations to make the internship the best experience possible for each individual as well as the group as a whole. Doron explained the importance of FoodWhat's guidelines to teach professionalism and respect, such as showing up on time and using appropriate language. Feeling good about the expectations of the program, everybody signed the contract and got ready to work.

Turning our attention to the compost pile, we geared up with shovels and forks. The piles we needed to combine were large and intimidating at first, but quickly became nothing to worry about. With awesome focus and work ethic, we had the new pile entirely constructed in twenty minutes!

Our stomachs were grumbling after the hard work of turning compost and it was time for snacks and refreshments. Abby taught us how to carefully read a recipe for butternut squash muffins and everyone played a role in measuring, stirring, and pouring ingredient to make the batter. As soon as we sliced open the baked butternut squash, the sweet pumpkin smell made us even more excited to dig in.


With the muffins in the oven, we blended bananas, strawberries, persimmons, peaches, yogurt, and rice milk into refreshing smoothies. The best part about making smoothies with FoodWhat was that People Power (a local bike-advocacy organization) let us borrow their bike-powered blender! Not only does this blender use zero electricity, but it lets you break a sweat while making a tasty treat.


Ending the day on a positive note, we talked about the "triumphs" of our day. Everybody had something different to be proud of, ranging from their first experience turning over compost to their role in crafting the deliciousness of the butternut squash muffins fresh out of the oven.