Monday, May 27, 2013

Week Ten at "Food, What?!"

After nine weeks of field work and delicious food, we've finally come to the tenth week! This means only one more week left of our FoodWhat internship!

With that motivational push in mind, we jumped into the tenth week eager and ready to go, kicking the day off with a game of  "Human Knot" where we linked together, tangled ourselves up, and faced the challenge of twisting and turning our way out of the mess. After the game, we hit the kitchen to prep our greek-style lunch: spanikopita! We chopped up our veggies and sauteed them until they were soft. Then Abby showed us how to handle phylo dough, a very thin dough that will become the flakey crust of our spanikopita. We gently laid the sheets of dough out and coated them with olive oil to make them sticky and keep them moist. We plopped a hefty amount of veggies onto the dough and flag-folded them into triangular pockets of veggies. We put the spanikopita into the oven and headed out to the fields to work as they baked.   

In the fields, we dug the paths within the beds and finished it off by sowing seeds. After today's work, we can expect a lot of corn, squash, and beans this summer!

With the fields taken care of, we headed inside to our weekly workshop with Farmer D. Knowing that keeping track of money can be a little tough for most, Farmer D set us up with a workshop on budgeting and money management. This workshop came at a perfect time as we await receiving our FoodWhat paychecks next week! We talked about avoiding debt and budgeting for long term and short term goals through taking a good look at our expenses and income.

As we wrapped up our workshop, the spanikopita was ready to come out of the oven! We ended the day munching on these delicious treats and sharing our triumphs of the day.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Week Nine at "Food, What?!"

The ninth week at FoodWhat is field trip week! The crews that normally work the FoodWhat farm swapped places with the Wednesday Live Earth Farm crew to give everyone a new experience. Not only does this give the entire FoodWhat crew an opportunity to see where the other crews work, but it gives the week an exciting twist. 

We kicked off a day at Live Earth Farm with a unique game of tag. People clustered up within the circle, touching feet. To be safe, you had to run to another group in the circle and stick to them, which made someone else in that cluster at risk of being "it"!

Next we made our way over to the field to start some work in the sun. To our surprise, sowing pumpkin seeds was on the agenda today! The pumpkins planted this week will be used in FoodWhat's harvest festival in the fall. It's important to get them into the ground early to make sure they're plump and orange by the festival. Abby explained how to plant these giant seeds deep enough and with enough space for the vines to have enough space to grow and produce over 200 pumpkins!

Then it was time to start making our fluffy, delicious lunch for the day: oven-baked pretzels, made by us every step of the way! The first step was to get the wheat berry from the wheat plants that were grown, harvested, and dried on the FoodWhat farm. Who knew a piece of a hose is the best handmade tool to get the job done? We sat in a circle around the dried wheat plants and began pounding them apart.

To separate the nutritious grain from the broken up plants, we used wind!  In partners, one person dumped the mixture into a bowl while the other used a cutting board to make wind, blowing away the light pieces of the plant and leaving us with only the heavy grain left behind. 

We brought our fresh grain into the kitchen to grind it up into flour using a traditional hand-crank grinder (a workout!) as well as an electric grinder for speedy processing. Seeing the whole grain wheat directly transform into flour really showed what whole grain flour is and how delicious freshly ground flour smells. We added yeast and a little bit a sugar and made a team effort to start kneading our dough. Now we know why bakers have big muscles: kneading dough is hard work! We put the dough together in a bowl to rise while we made our way over to a workshop to learn more about the grains we eat everyday.   


 First we made a diagram of a grain and its different parts: bran, endosperm, and germ. Then we talked about how the bran of the grain helps clean our intestines, the endosperm gives us a little dose of sugar and carbohydrates, and the germ is full of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Whole grains are pretty balanced! We shifted gears and talked about grains that aren't whole, like white rice and white flour, because they're processed to get rid of the bran and germ. This leaves only the sugary, carbohydrate-packed endosperm. What happened to the balance? It now made perfect sense why whole grains are the healthier option against processed grains. We looked at food packaging to learn how to decode advertising claims and look for the word "whole" in the ingredients. We now have a choice when choosing our grains!  

Then it was time for a lesson on straight talk with Doron. He taught us how to effectively balance our feedback to others with positives and improvables. He also taught us how to listen, take in, and process others' suggestions to us. We gave straight talk a shot first by evaluating our own performance at FoodWhat, making sure to balance our areas for improvement with our strengths. Because youth's opinions are crucial to keeping FoodWhat functioning as fantastically as possible, we did some straight talk about our nine weeks so far at FoodWhat and learned what others loved about the program and what might change in future years. 

Our dough finished rising just in the nick of time and we jumped up to start twisting it into all kinds of of doughy creations. We boiled each pretzel for a moment and then transported them outside to the cob oven (which gets hotter than 800 degrees!).

With the pretzels baking, we got to know some other hard workers at Live Earth Farm: the goats! And they were just as hungry as we were.

The pretzels were done in no time and it was our turn to feast. Each pretzel was fluffy, golden, and delicious. We added a little cinnamon, salt, or mustard for some extra flavor, but the most satisfying part of devouring these treats was enjoying to final stage of what started our as dried wheat plants!

We talked about our day's triumphs, which ranged from making the pretzels to planting pumpkins, before we loaded up the van and thanked Live Earth Farm for the field trip!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

"Food, What?!" May Photo-of-the-Month


The Photo-of-the-Month is our monthly transmission to share one highlight, moment, or story, to offer you connection to the experiences we share at “Food, What?!”.

Doron, Abby, Alex, and the FoodWhat Crew

It's Friday...and these are the faces of the 60 Santa Cruz County Youth who have just successfully completed the FoodWhat Spring Internship.

They have been here for 3 hours each week for the past 3 months. Each week:

  • opening ice-breaker 
  • one hour of organic farming
  • one hour of leadership development workshop
  • one hour of cooking and eating a healthy, farm fresh meal
  • closing with "triumphs" (something that we are each proud of ourselves for from the day)
Here are a few quotes from their final triumphs:
"I eat healthier at my house now and I’m proud of myself for working hard and being here everyday."--Phoenix

"My triumph is actually coming, because as I’ve said before I usually quit everything. This is one of the first things I haven’t quit."--Sarah

"At first my attendance at school, I didn’t have it good.  I would show up every now and then.  Since FoodWhat I’ve been showing up to school more and coming here on time.  I’m really glad for everything that’s happened here.  I’ve become a better person inside.  I have greater leadership. I feel more comfortable around people now."--Luis

"I can use this experience on  my resume."--Adrian + Jose

 "After all the (FoodWhat empowerment) workshops I started doing better in school and trying harder because I realized I SHOULD be trying harder--that this is a big part of my life that I’m skipping, or trying to skip out on, but I could be working much harder than I was—and I am now."--Chloe

"Growing as a person and being more comfortable with myself and learning how to talk more and being more social with people. Also being on time this whole entire time—most of the weeks I needed to come here I felt completely out of it and not wanting to come but I just pushed through and made it."--Eddy

(To see tons of juicy photos and read more about what we did each week in the Spring Internship, you can go to our blog here.)

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"Food, What?!" (Project of Life Lab)
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Santa Cruz, CA 95064

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Monday, May 13, 2013

Week Eight at "Food, What?!"

A game of "lighthouse" kicked off the eighth week on the Food What farm. We teamed up with someone we trusted and pulled out the blindfolds. With the obstacle course before us, we led our partner safely through using only verbal directions as guidance. Success! Everybody made it through.

Then it was time to hit the fields. We planted leeks and sweet pepper seedlings ready to thrive. Soon after the seedlings were taken care of we planted summer squash seeds into the ground. We ended up with rows upon rows of little plants and newly-planted seeds promising tons of veggies for summer!  


Then it was workshop time! This week was all about writing resumes, which is sure to come in handy as we start applying for summer jobs. Doron gave us specific examples of what to include ranging from education and work experience to awards and volunteering. He even taught us how to use sophisticated wording to make our resumes even more impressive and professional.

Then it was veggie pesto pasta time! We got to choppin' onions, kale, and carrots to saute for some extra color in our meal as the pasta boiled on the stove top. When the pasta and the veggies were nice and soft, we mixed in pesto made with the basil grown by FoodWhat's summer crew! We mixed it all together and enjoyed. Our delicious meal ended as we shared our triumphs with the rest of the crew and called it a day.