What fun is it working on a 25 acre organic farm overlooking the Pacific Ocean if you can’t share it with everyone and use it as a vehicle for education? Not much, which is why FoodWhat offers farm tours to educational and community groups, schools, and clubs twelve months a year. We understand the transformation that happens in young people when the connection is made between the apple they ate and the tree it grew from and thus we strive to make that connection for as many youth as we can.
This week, Doron gave a tour to a group of 15 youth from Pajaro Valley High School that are part of the Watsonville Wetlands Watch program. After a brief introduction to both wetlands and organic farming, Doron led the group around the farm explaining everything from composting, to blueberry research, to cover crop mixes. This time of year the farm is at its quietest - most of the fields are in cover crop (i.e. planted with a seed mixture that helps keep nutrients locked in the soil during the heavy winter rains), the apprentice program is in it’s lay period, and the cool January air lends a slight feeling of desolation to the acres of bare trees. But, Doron was still able to find teachable moments and inspiring activities without the hustle and bustle of spring planting or harvest season.
Towards the end of the tour, Doron led the group to a field and asked each youth to choose a row and stand in front of it. He then asked them to take a moment to imagine themselves as a farmer, and to imagine what type of fruits and vegetables they would plant in their row. He explained they can choose whatever they want, as long as it is a plant that thrives in the California climate. As we moved down the row, asking each youth what they would plant, the field momentarily became alive with the greens and flowers of their dreams. The youth said they would plant sweet potatoes, blueberries, onions, corn, and lettuces. They looked down their row of a cover cropped field and they saw their favorite foods, the foods of their culture, and most of all, they saw possibility. And in that moment, on a cold January day on a barren farm, the connection between what we eat and where it comes from was made, even if only in our imaginations.