Santa Cruz Good Times

Friday
Jul 31st
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

 

Health Screening

Santa Cruz wellness expert releases app to improve workplace well-being

 

Leo Sun; Full Moon, Venus Retro in Leo; Saturn Direct

It’s a complex week of planetary movements, challenges, demands and callings. We’re in the time of the Leo Sun. Leo—fixed fire, gold, the heart, generous, strong, noble, the king/queen—needs appreciation and praise from everyone in order to move forward. During Leo we gain a greater sense of self-identification by recognizing our creativity. It’s therefore a perfect time for Venus retrograding in Leo. In Venus retrograde we review and re-assess values. Venus retro in Leo concerns our self as valuable, acknowledging talents, gifts, abilities and offerings. Friday, Venus re-enters Leo (29 degrees, a critical degree) continuing the retrograde to 14 degrees Leo on Sept. 6. Friday (Full Moon) is also the (8 degrees) Leo solar festival, Festival of the Future. Leo is the heart of the sun, the heart of all that matters. When attuned to this heart, we have understanding and inclusivity. The heart of the Lion is Mitra (think “Maitreya,” the coming World Teacher). Leo prepares humanity to receive divine love from subtle sources and later to radiate that love to the kingdoms. Sirius, Ray 2, where love originates, streams through Regulus (heart of Leo), into the heart of the sun (Ray 2) and into all hearts. The heart of Leo is Regulus. Joining Venus, the love underlying all of creation appears. Saturday is Sun/Neptune (confusion or devotion) with late night Saturn turning stationary direct. Ideas, plans and structures held long in abeyance (since March 14) slowly move forward. (Read more on Leo and the week at nightlightnews.org and Risa D’Angeles’ Facebook page, accessed through my website.)

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Jailbreak with Reality

‘The Stanford Prison Experiment’ revisits one of the most notorious studies of all time
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Holy Cannoli

New bakery opens in Ben Lomond, plus Randall Grahm’s quest to grow 10,000 new grape varieties, and Mexican cooking classes

 

Is Santa Cruz turning into Malibu North?

It's got a ways to go before it gets wrecked like Malibu, but I think we need to be very careful about growth. Maria Mattioli, Santa Cruz, Psychotherapist

 

Bargetto Winery

A much-anticipated annual event at Bargetto Winery is the release of their very special La Vita red wine. June 7 was the day to be heralded this year, and I happily squeezed my car into their overloaded car park in eager anticipation of tasting the new La Vita nectar.

 

Margaritaville

Popular Capitola spot gets new owner and complete makeover