Santa Cruz Good Times

Tuesday
Sep 23rd
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

 

Catwalk on the Wild Side

Meet the artists and designers behind this year’s edition of FashionART, SantaCruz’s most outrageous fashion show

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Watch List

From Google to the government to data brokers, why your privacy is now a thing of the past

 

The Peace Equation

Sunday is the United Nations’ International Day of Peace, a global peace-building day when nations, leaders, governments, communities and individuals are invited to end conflict, cease hostilities, creat 24 hours of non-violence and promote goodwill. Monday is Autumn equinox as the Sun enters Libra (right relations with all of life). The Soul Year now begins. We work in the dark part of the year (Persephone underground) preparing for the new light of winter solstice. Tuesday to Wednesday is the Virgo new moon festival. We know two things about peace. “The absence of war does not signify peace.” And “Peace is an ongoing process.” In its peace-building emphasis, the UNIDP, through education, attempts to create a “culture of peace, understanding and tolerance”. Esoterically we are reminded of the peace equation: “Intentions for goodwill (and acting upon this intention) create right relations with all earth’s kingdoms which create (the ongoing process of) peace on earth.” At noon on Sunday, in all time zones, millions of participating groups will observe a moment of silence for peace on earth. Bells will ring, candles will be lit, and doves released as the New Group of World Servers recite the Great Invocation (humanity’s mantram of direction). To connect with others around the world see www.cultureofpeace.org    Let us join together with the mother (Virgo). Goodwill to all, let peace prevail on earth. The dove is the symbol for the day.
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Sweet Treats

Local cannabis bakers win award for cookies

 

What fashion trends do you want to see, or not see?

Santa Cruz  |  High School Guidance Counselor

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Santa Clara Wine Trail

My memories of growing up in England include my mother pouring port after Sunday dinner—and sometimes a glass of sherry before dinner. My family didn’t drink much wine back then, but we certainly made up for it with the port and sherry.