On October 23rd, nearly 300 middle and high school students from across the county came out to the farm for our annual Food, What?! Harvest Festival! The day was filled with lots of fun and educational farm, food, health and empowerment activities!
We were excited to connect this year's event with nationwide Food Day, deepening the focus on food access and justice for food and farmworkers. We even had a Food Day Photobooth! For more on what went down, check out some of the day's highlights...
After grabbing a name tag, map and station checklist, students headed to the pumpkin patch (thank you CASFS for sharing your field with us), where they got to pick a pumpkin from the nearly 200 we grew and harvested this year at our partner farm in Watsonville, Live Earth.
Once students had a pumpkin, it was on to the main festival area to dive into the many stations and workshops!
Several stations gave students an opportunity to taste fresh foods and think about food choices.
At the Apple Tasting station, we tasted three types of farm fresh apples -- MacIntosh, Jonagold and Fuji. We learned that there are 2,500 known apple varieties in the U.S., but only 15 varieties make up over 90% of all apples grown! Of those, Red Delicious is the #1 selling. We were challenged to think about why so few apples are offered in stores and why the Red Delicious looks so waxy and uniform compared to the farm fresh apples.
The "Squash" Injustice station gave us the chance to use our voting power and choose which squash we liked best: Delicata, Butternut or Red Kuri.
Our friend, Tawn, from Greenways to School came through with his bike blender so we could use our body power to make delicious berry smoothies!
We also tasted farm fresh apples at the Cider Pressing and Apple Pie Making stations! We used a cider press to smash and squeeze the apples into deliciously sweet apple cider.
In our outdoor kitchen, we washed and cored apples and filled pie tarts with the fresh apple filling to make our own mini pies. They were so tasty! And guess what? No added sugar!
As we filled our bellies, we also challenged our minds. At the Food Justice Wall workshop we learned about the differences in access to fresh food in Oakland compared to Santa Cruz. We talked about food justice issues in our communities and what we can do about them.
Miguel and Uriel, FoodWhat youth, led us in What You Drink, What You Think: Youth Dollar Power. This workshop taught us about some of the health effects of consuming artificial sugars, and showed us how much sugar is in many drinks and how to read labels to know. It challenged us to think about what we're voting for when we buy different drinks.
We answered questions about fast food and the fast food industry with FoodWhat Alumni, Tyrelle and Sarah, at the Fast Food Jeopardy game.
We learned about Fair Trade.
At one of our new stations, Thank Your Farmworker Campaign, students learned about the challenges and injustices that farmworkers face. We then had the opportunity to turn that into something positive by making a thank-you card for a farmworker. All the cards will be delivered to farmworkers through the Center for Farmworker Families.
Close by were more creative stations. Our friends from Subjects to Change Youth Program helped students make their own buttons from a variety of materials and food-related phrases, such as "Food Day", "Real Food, Just Food," and "Celebrate Farmworkers." So much fun!
Some of us carved or painted our pumpkins at the Pumpkin Carving station!
As we wandered from station to station, students stopped to pet a goat and sheep, brought to the farm by Gail from Westside Farm and Feed. There were also chickens to hold and learn about.
And just past the chickens...our Food Day Photobooth!!! Brought to us with help from our friend, Nicole Zahm of the Santa Cruz Community Farmers' Market. There were so many fun props and phrases to use!
Final stop...the Hayride! (Thanks Darryl for driving the tractor!) While students waited in line, many visited the Popcorn station conveniently located where the tractor picked up. We popped popcorn actually grown by our crew this year on the FoodWhat farm!
We want to say a big THANK YOU to all who made the 2014 Harvest Festival a huge success! A special shout-out goes to New Leaf Community Markets, who generously sponsored the event. Thanks New Leaf!
We look forward to seeing everyone again at next year's event!