Thursday, June 6, 2013

"Strawberry Blast!" 2013

By Vick Pozos (FoodWhat Alumni)

Each year FoodWhat invites youth from Santa Cruz County to come and enjoy our annual Strawberry Blast! 250 students piled in at the entrance gate to be greeted by Farmer D and Damian. There they made their own name tags and received a map to start off their day.

The first location on the map were the strawberry fields. Yum! The students walked down the rows of strawberries, harvesting them right off the plant. As they walked down the rows there were signs every few feet. Each sign had a fact, like "Did you know? -- There are about 200 seeds in every strawberry." Or asked the students questions to get them to think of the process their food goes through to get from the ground to their plate, and the people involved in the process.

As they continued following the map they had finally reached the stations. They first encountered the Food Justice Wall, a workshop lead by our FoodWhat Alumni Keyah, where he talked about Food Justice--what it is, who does it effect, examples between Santa Cruz City and West Oakland, and two personal stories of farm workers in Santa Cruz County. To wrap up the workshop students came up and posted sticky notes responding to their reaction to the stories, what justice issues they see in their community and what actions they can take. As each student left they were surprised by many of the facts and the stories, but also left empowered.

Continuing on the map the students came across "Strawberry, What?!" where they got to learn more about strawberries. We also had for the first time in FoodWhat history had the Watsonville Wetlands Watch and J√≥venes Sanos come out to the Strawberry Blast and host their own stations. Jovenes SANOS, a project of Go For Health!, is a Watsonville based youth advocacy project seeking to increase opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity for you people of Watsonville through implementing long-term eating and physical activity. The group is working in three sectors of the community to address this public health issue: city planning, markets, and schools. Watsonville Wetlands Watch brought Wetland Stewards to teach students the importance of wetlands. They had a hands-on watershed activity where they demonstrated the affects of pollution and brought little tiny microscopic aquatic invertebrates.

In the center wooden tables students had the opportunity to transplant a lettuce plant and take it home. Next we not only had our very own smoothie bike, but Tawn brought People Power's smoothie bike. This meant double the smoothies were being made as students got on the bikes and pedaled to race who can make their smoothie faster. Once they hopped down they got to enjoy their hard work with a delicious and nutritious smoothie. YUMMM!! As students ate strawberries and smoothies, we also had strawberry tarts. Each student got to fill their own strawberry tart. Students found this the most delicious treat of the day. As students walked around they got to pet goats and hold chickens while learning about them. Not to mention we had our very own Cabrillo and UCSC table hosted by our FoodWhat Alumni Kitty and Max. They each representing their school and answered any question students had about college and handing out information. This is a sure way of getting students excited about college by having youth share their experiences and knowledge.

Going through all those stations sure got students hungry. We had the honor of having Fran bring her food truck, the Truck Stop, up to the farm and make delicious, rainbow veggie quesadillas with an AMAZING strawberry salsa. YUMMMMM!!!! Deonte and Matthew had the opportunity to help Fran prepare, cook, cut veggies and serve the delicious quesadillas to students.

Walking down to the amphitheater youth played Fast Food Jeopardy where students answered questions concerning fast food, sanitation, money, farming etc. The school that got the right answer got the points! The students walked up to the Circle tent, to the "What You think, What You Think" workshop, where they leaned about processed sugar and youth dollar power. Students also got connected to social media with The Hook Up, a station led by Alex and Connor. They connected youth to activism by using social media as a means to get connected. They used Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to spread the fight for fair food using #Youth4FairFood.

At the end of the event, youth regrouped with their teachers to fill out a worksheet about what they learned that day. Needless to say, they learned A LOT!

It was an awesome event, thanks to all that came out and participated!!

Driscoll's - Everett Family Farm -Santa Cruz City Schools and Wellness Committee-
Central Coast School Food Alliance - UCSC Farm and Garden

Check out the article in the Sentinel HERE.

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