Santa Cruz Good Times

Thursday
Apr 17th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

From Field to Able

dining_youthcrewThe Youth Crew at Food, What?! mixes farming-based curriculums with personal, business, community and networking skills

Since 1979 Santa Cruz’s nonprofit Life Lab organization has built a fine boutique of garden-based curriculums. Children around the country learn hands-on science in the fresh air of their school gardens. At the Garden Classroom at UC Santa Cruz, kids learn about nature, weather, and decomposition, while teacher-training classes offer graduate credits. And three years ago Food, What?! was born as a high school youth empowerment program.

Each fall and spring, students begin a 12-week internship on the UCSC farm employing organic and sustainable methods. They plant flowers and learn to grow and cook potatoes, vegetables, and even grain, which they harvest, thresh, winnow and grind into flour. In the summer program they work for a paycheck on their own farm as well as others such as Freewheelin’ Farm, sometimes making bicycle deliveries to CSA drop-offs. They also perform volunteer gardening at local schools.

At Life Lab's 31st anniversary, GT spoke with Brandon McBride, a Junior Staff Member at Food, What?!

“Working in the soil and learning where your food comes from,” McBride said, “you get a sense of where man began, creating food instead of mass producing it.”

When asked if Food, What?! is a future farmers program, Director Doron Comerchero says it’s more about growing strong individuals. “Agriculture presents a really nice opportunity to learn skills in an empowering way.”

And the list of skills learned is long. Students set up a farm stand at Gault Elementary School with artistic flower bouquets, arranged an attractive array of vegetables, and handled the accounting. Their blog is a scrapbook of colorful photographs and commentary. From bicycle safety training, teambuilding workshops and resume-writing sessions, students garner lifetime competences.

At Life Lab’s anniversary dinner, one student summarized what she gained through participation in Food, What?!

“I didn’t really make the connection that through this program I was going to grow a lot more personal skills, and better skills interacting and communicating with other people.”

In 2008 Food, What?! hosted a day of the Rooted in Community Conference for the national organization that empowers young people to be involved in their communities. Youth Crew members led seminars for their peers, and they all made pizza. Some of the Crew followed the conference to Berkeley for more forums.

Last autumn 300 county teenagers descended on the farm for the annual Fall Harvest Festival. The guests stripped kernels from cobs and popped corn, peeled apples on a mini-lathe and pressed cider, fed goats and ate goat cheese.

But they also were invited to workshops that included such topics as “Trace-your-burrito: Where do those ingredients in your Taco Bell burrito come from, anyway?” and “Eat a Rainbow: Learn a little about nutrition and sample some tasty food.”

The Crew celebrates spring with a Strawberry Blast, also inviting county high schoolers to participate in making smoothies, some in a bicycle-powered blender, and tarts. But fast food jeopardy, the positive notion of fair-trade bananas and Food Justice philosophy, perhaps enabled their peers to view their food choices differently.


The Youth Crew held a major fundraising dinner in October, but it's not too late to make a donation through lifelab.org/support.  Keep up  with Food, What?! at foodwhatblog.blogspot.com.
Comments (2)Add Comment
Good post!
written by Göran, May 14, 2011
NIce article, it´s good that the children have to do some things in the garden! :D
Support Life Lab
written by Deborah Bolt, November 02, 2010
Much thanks to Greg Archer and the Good Times crew for getting the word out and supporting Life Lab’s Food What?! program and our other garden & farm-based programs.

For more information about Life Lab and to donate to our sustainability, please visit www.lifelab.org

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Growing Hope

Campos Seguros combats sexual assault in the Watsonville farmworker community Farm work was a way of life for Rocio Camargo, who grew up in Watsonville as the daughter of Mexican immigrants. Her parents met while working the fields 30 years ago, and her father went on to run Fuentes Berry Farms.

 

Cardinal Grand Cross in the Sky

Following Holy Week (passion, death and burial of the Pisces World Teacher) and Easter Sunday (Resurrection Festival), from April 19 to the 23, the long-awaited and discussed Cardinal Cross of Change appears in the sky, composed of Cardinal signs Aries, Libra, Cancer, and Capricorn, with planets (13-14 degrees) Uranus (in Aries), Jupiter (in Cancer), Mars (in Libra) and Pluto (in Capricorn), an actual geometrical square or cross configuration. Cardinal signs mark the seasons of change, initiating new realities.

 

Sugar: The New Tobacco?

Proposed bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks Will soda and other saccharine libations soon come with a health warning? They will if it’s up to our state senator, Bill Monning (D-Carmel). On Feb. 27, Monning proposed first-of-its-kind legislation that would require a consumer warning label be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. SB 1000, also known as the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, was proposed to provide vital information to consumers about the harmful effects of consuming sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas.

 

Animal Magnetism

Bear, mouse dare to be friends in charming ‘Ernest and Celestine’ It’s not exactly Romeo and Juliet. It’s not even a romance, although it is a love story about two individuals separated by prejudice who find the courage to form an unshakable bond despite the rules and traditions that keep them apart.
Sign up for Tomorrow's Good Times Today
Upcoming arts & events

Latest Comments

 

Foodie File: Red Apple Cafe

Breakfast takes center stage at Gracia Krakauer's Red Apple Cafe Before they moved to Aptos, Gracia and her husband Dan Krakauer would visit friends in Santa Cruz County and eat at the Red Apple Café all the time. Then they moved up here from Santa Monica five years ago, and bought the Aptos location (there’s a separate one in Watsonville) from the family who owned it for two decades.

 

How would you feel about a tech industry boom in Santa Cruz?

I feel like it would ruin the small old-town feeling of Santa Cruz. It wouldn’t be the same Surf City kind of vacation town that it is. Antoinette BennettSanta Cruz | Construction Management

 

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

 

Trout Gulch Vineyards

Cinsault 2012—la grande plage diurne The most popular wines on store shelves are those most generally known and available—Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which are all superb for sure. But when you come across a more unusual varietal, like Trout Gulch Vineyards’ Cinsault ($18), it opens up a whole new world.