Tuesday, October 27, 2015

 Meet the 2015 "Food, What?!" Fall Crew

We are wrapping up an amazing fall season of events, activities, FoodWhat micro-businesses and fall leadership jobs.  In the Fall Program, the youth step up their leadership skills, solidify their professionalism, and assistant in managing one of FoodWhat's projects or businesses. The Fall Program is when the youth put their training from the spring and summer into practice. We wanted to highlight the amazing Fall youth crew who have been working hard these past two months to make each of these projects run.

Flower Business 

Leilani invited participants at the UCSC Harvest Festival
to cut sunflowers to support FoodWhat
Leilani and Grace run the fall FoodWhat flower business.  They came to the farm twice a week to harvest flowers, arrange bouquets, manage the accounting, and deliver them to local businesses. They take full ownership and responsibility of their work, learning the proper cutting and handling of each type of flower and delivering high quality and artistic arrangements.

We are grateful for the support and partnership from local businesses that buy our flowers each week: Cafe Delmarette, Lulu Carpenters, Penny Ice Creamery, Patagonia, and Charlie Hong Kong

Harvest Festival Event Organizers

Briana and Olvaerr are this year's FoodWhat Harvest Festival Planners. They are learning and implementing all the skills necessary to put on a major event hosting 300 middle and high school students. This year the Harvest Festival will take place on Tursday October 29th. Briana and Ollie are planning the stations and the event flow, doing outreach to partners and volunteers, inviting students from the different county schools, writing press releases, creating a pumpkin patch, and setting up and facilitating the day-of activities. The stations will include pumpkin carving, hay rides, popcorn shucking and popping, apple tart making, cider pressing, workshops such as Youth Dollar Power and Fast Food Jeopardy, Thank a Farm Worker letter writing, and a food themed Photo Booth. We will also have stations run by our partners at Watsonville Wetlands Watch, Community AgroEcology Network, and the Museum of Art and History (MAH). We are excited to roll out the event! 

Culinary Crew
Thalia                 Stefany                      Manuel
Salsa made from FoodWhat grown peppers, tomatoes,
and spices
Thalia, Stefany and Manuel are the Fall Chef team taking on all things culinary. They've honed their cooking and catering skills by preparing food for many events including a dinner for the  Equitable Food Initiative board members, appetizers for the Life Lab Fall Gathering, worked under the mentorship of the Penny Ice Creamery and 
Damani Thomas from Oswald Restaurant to create the meal 
for the FoodWhat Benefit Dinner, cooked meals for their FoodWhat peers, ran a bike-powered smoothie station at the UCSC Harvest Festival, and canned up some salsa for next year's programs. What a mouthful!

Santa Cruz Farm and Harvest
Bree getting down in the summer squash
Grace shows off the pepper harvest

Expert carrot harvester, Aaliyah
Sadie giving us some gold
Fall is when the farm is most abundant with food to harvest. Though we begin harvesting vegetables in June, September and October add tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, cabbage, and onions to our already bountiful fields of basil, lettuce, broccoli, squash, beans, cucumbers, cilantro, leeks, carrots, beets, and more. This fall Sadie, Grace, Aaliyah and Bree managed the harvest and post- harvest handling of all of our crops. They came to the farm every Thursday afternoon to harvest for the FoodWhat Farm Stand that takes place at Gault Elementary School each Friday. 

In addition the harvest management, Grace and Sadie are also the fall farm managers for the Santa Cruz FoodWhat farm site. They come to FoodWhat two days a week to take care of all the farm needs including weeding, planting, compost making, preparing the farm for the winter and planting cover crops. They are also responsible for making a harvest list of what is available to harvest for the Gault Farm Stand.  The fall farm management positions are geared to help each of them develop stronger "farming eyes", practice time and group management skills, as well as to improve the leadership skills of finishing a task with quality while looking ahead to think through the next project.

Watsonville Farm and Harvest

In partnership with Live Earth Farm and Live Earth Farm Discovery Program, Manuel and Antonio spend each Monday afternoon learning and practicing what it takes to manage a small farm. They walk the fields making lists of the work they see that needs to be done, learn how to prioritize that work, create harvest lists for the Tuesday harvest for Radcliff Elementary Farm Stand, and then tackle the work on their to-do list. They are learning about irrigation, crop rotation, soil health, time management and how to think through the different farm needs. 

On Tuesdays, Viri and Shin join the team to do the vegetable harvest for the Radcliff Elementary Farm Stand that takes place each Wednesday. They divide up the harvest list, harvest each vegetable, wash it, weigh it, and pack it up for the Wednesday Farm Stand. Each week they are practicing proper post-harvest handling techniques so that their customers at Radcliff Elementary are getting the highest quality produce. 

Farm Stands at Gault and Radcliff Elementary Schools

Shin and Nathan at the Radcliff Farm Stand

Each week during September and October, FoodWhat hosts two "affordable" farm stands, selling the produce that we harvested and grew this season. On Wednesday afternoons Shin and Viri set up and run the stand at Radcliff Elementary in Watsonville. On Friday afternoons, Aaliyah and Bree set up and run the farm stand at Gault Elementary in Santa Cruz. At each of the stands we sell our produce to the school and local community at discounted prices comparable to the price of produce sold in conventional grocery stores. We were also very excited to be able to offer EBT sales this year!
Aaliyah and Bree running the Gault Farm Stand

We believe that all people have a right to fresh, local, organic, healthy fruits and vegetables. Our goal is to support our community by helping to make this food more accessible and affordable to all and take an action step toward food justice in Santa Cruz County.

Adrian building garden beds
Each week Adrian, Stefany, and Aaliyah go to a different school or community garden to help "Blast" out some major maintenance and infrastructure projects. This fall they have worked at eight different garden sites and tackled everything from building garden beds at Amesti to composting and digging beds at HA Hyde and Chavez Elementary schools to mulching a community orchard with Mesa Verde Gardens and extraordinary amounts of weeding at all the sites. Their work helps deepen and expand the educational programs and hands-on learning opportunities for the students at each of these schools. 

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