Santa Cruz Good Times

Saturday
Aug 29th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

A Slice of Farm Life

diningAg-based education gets a boost at Slice, the fifth annual farm dinner to support the Live Earth Farm Discovery Program

Does a hamburger come from a farm?

It’s a surprisingly complex question, and one that youth who pass through the Live Earth Farm Discovery Program (LEFDP) have thoughtfully explored. The nonprofit’s 10 different programs provide farm-based education and activities for infants through teenagers, and the questions posed—such as the aforementioned quandary about the origins of a hamburger—vary in depth depending on the age group.

Young children, for example, may be asked to consider how Santa Cruz County residents eat grapes when they aren’t in season, says program director Jessica Ridgeway.

With high schoolers, like 16-year-old Iysha Benavidez, “we might delve into how the food system works,” says Ridgeway.

As part of a collaboration between LEFDP and local food justice program Food What?! Benavidez spent portions of her recent Food What?! spring internship and summer job with LEFDP at its headquarters, Live Earth Farm in Watsonville.

“I stopped eating fast food five months ago after I learned from [LEFDP] how far it came, what they did to the animals to get the meat, and how it was made,” Benavidez says. “It didn’t really feel right to me. I like knowing that all my vegetables—when I grow them myself or work on the farm—are fresh and right there instead of having to come thousands of miles to get to me.”

Benavidez has also planted a garden at her family’s home in Watsonville. “They really like what I’ve learned,” she says.

More than 1,400 youth cycled through LEFDP in 2012, with the highest portion—30 percent—hailing from Watsonville and Corralitos, says Ridgeway.

“[A lot of them] say it’s their first time on a farm, but they live surrounded by fields,” says Ridgeway. “Some of their parents pick strawberries all day every day, and they never have. Our message to them is that it’s a career to be proud of. They pick one, eat it, have juice dripping down their chin. With the older kids we may talk about how hard that would be to do all day, but that, if you want to eat them, someone has to pick them.”

The nonprofit formed in January 2008 as an expansion of Live Earth Farm’s popular field trip program. “We realized there was a really big need for these field trips and if we offered them, they’d fill up,” says Ridgeway.

School field trips are still a mainstay for LEFDP, which operates separately from the farm, but it also offers summer camps, a monthly home school program, drop-in programs for young families, and more. Each takes advantage of the 50 fruits and vegetables grown at Live Earth, allowing, for example, babies to touch, smell and taste fresh produce, and children to try everything from fruit tree pruning to milking goats.

LEFDP covered all costs for 23 percent of participants last year, subsidized costs for 31 percent, and subsidized transportation costs for 12 percent. To make these sorts of opportunities available, LEFDP is looking to the community for support. It hopes to raise $20,000 at its largest annual fundraiser, Slice, a farm dinner that takes place Saturday, Sept. 14.

Served beneath the canopy of Live Earth Farm’s Espaliered Gala Apple Orchard, the apple-themed organic feast will be comprised entirely of edibles from local chefs, farmers, artisans and winemakers, including apple chutney bruschetta with goat cheese, slow-cooked Linda's Tasty Pork with Live Earth Farm German butterball potatoes, red onions, roasted apples, and braised greens, and apple crisp à la Mode, Penny Ice Creamery-style.

Apples, Ridgeway explains, are both a nod to the area’s agricultural history (where berries now cover the land, apple trees once stood prominent) and a symbol for learning. The locally sourced meal itself is an apt representation of LEFDP’s mission.

“It’s all about teaching farm-to-plate,” says Ridgeway. “We hope that [kids] are walking away with some understanding of how to build a healthy plate of food for themselves, as well as that, basically, all of their food comes from the farm. And the fewer steps it took to get to their plate, the better.” 


Slice, Dinner in the Orchard takes place from 4 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14 at Live Earth Farm’s Lower Barn, 1275 Green Valley Road, Watsonville. Live music by The Shapes, an auction, children’s program, and historical Pajaro Valley apple farming display, discussion and apple activities top off the farm dinner. General admission $150. Ticket sales end 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13. Learn more at liveearthfarm.net/celebrations-events/events.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

The Meaning of ‘LIFE’

With a new documentary film about his work, and huge exhibits on both coasts, acclaimed Santa Cruz nature photographer Frans Lanting is having a landmark year. But his crusade for conservation doesn’t leave much time for looking back

 

Seasons of Opportunity

Everything in our world has a specific time (a season) in which to accomplish a specific work—a “season” that begins (opportunity) and ends (time’s up). I can feel the season is changing. The leaves turning colors, the air cooler, sunbeams casting shadows in different places. It feels like a seasonal change has begun in the northern hemisphere. Christmas is in four months, and 2015 is swiftly speeding by. Soon it will be autumn and time for the many Festivals of Light. Each season offers new opportunities. Then the season ends and new seasons take its place. Humanity, too, is given “seasons” of opportunity. We are in one of those opportunities now, to bring something new (Uranus) into our world, especially in the United States. Times of opportunity can be seen in the astrology chart. In the U.S. chart, Uranus (change) joins Chiron (wound/healing). This symbolizes a need to heal the wounds of humanity. Uranus offers new archetypes, new ways of doing things. The Uranus/Chiron (Aries/Pisces) message is, “The people of the U.S. are suffering. New actions are needed to bring healing and well-being to humanity. So the U.S. can fulfill its spiritual task of standing within the light and leading humanity within and toward the light.” Thursday, Aquarius Moon, Mercury enters Libra. The message, “To bring forth the new order in the world, begin with acts of Goodwill.” Goodwill produces right relations with everyone and everything. The result is a world of progressive well-being and peacefulness (which is neither passive nor the opposite of war). Saturday is the full moon, the solar light of Virgo streaming into the Earth. Our waiting now begins, for the birth of new light at winter solstice. The mother (hiding the light of the soul, the holy child), identifying the feminine principle, says, “I am the mother and the child. I, God (Father), I Matter (Mother), We are One.”

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of August 28

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Land of Plenty

Farm to Fork benefit dinner for UCSC’s Agroecology Center, plus a zippy salsa from Teresa’s Salsa that loves every food it meets

 

If you knew you had one week to live, what would you do?

Make peace with myself, which would allow me to be at peace with others. Diane Fisher, Santa Cruz, Network Engineer

 

Comanche Cellars

Michael Simons, owner and winemaker of Comanche Cellars, once had a trusted steed called Comanche, which was part of his paper route and his rodeo circuit, from the tender age of 10. In memory of this beautiful horse, he named his winery Comanche, and Comanche’s shoes grace the label of each handcrafted bottle.

 

Cantine Winepub

Aptos wine and tapas spot keeps it casual