While Farmers Reyna, Aminah and Ofelia were working hard tending Join the Farm! (JTF!) fields this week, I was having a great time sharing all things farming and good healthy eating with students in Ventura Unified School District (VUSD) through their “Farmer in the Classroom” program. This partnership between schools and farmers highlights the vital need for agricultural awareness in our community. I often start my classes with questions about the different fruits and vegetables students have seen growing in their community. Blank looks and confused expressions are the norm with the occasional, “I think I’ve seen pineapples on trees” (not kidding). Sadly, much of our community is largely unaware of the importance of agriculture in our county and our blessing of fertile sandy loam soil that we’ve depended on for our rich agricultural past and present. I LOVE opening students’ eyes to the wonder of soil science, the awe of learning how a carrot starts as a seed the size of a grain of sand and turns into a nutrient filled sweet root the sustains our bodies. JTF! is also growing hundreds of pounds of produce for students in VUSD.
I see Farmer in the Classroom as a chance to show gratitude for our farm’s best customers, the students, who eat our veggies every week in their cafeteria! The students no longer see “just” a carrot in the salad bar, they see rich fertile sandy loam soil unique to their piece of Earth here in Ventura County, they see Join the Farm!, their local farm they know and love, and they see the face of their local farmer who shared her love of growing food for special people in her community. It is this special relationship between farm, farmer, and customer (especially young customers!) that will sustain long and happy connections between local farms and healthy life long eaters. Just what Ventura County needs.
Special Thanks To…
- Employees at Calavo Packinghouse in Santa Paula for offering some of their cooling storage to keep Join the Farm! veggies cool during the increasingly hot summer months.
- Elizabeth Thasiah for her amazing organizational consulting and helping to strengthen the Abundant Table infrastructure.
- Jim Alexander from St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Ojai for his generously donation of a truck, which our farmers use daily.
- Sam and Christiana Thomas for their generous donation of Rosie the Volvo for our interns to safely get around town.
- Jose, Patti, Louise, Jose S., Santos, Larry, Susana at Faulkner Farm and the Hansen Ag Center for their ongoing support of the Abundant Table/Join the Farm! while we lease land at Hansen.
- Pedalers Fork Restaurant in Calabasas for getting some of their veggies for their delicious meals from Join the Farm! Learn more and watch a short video featuring our Farm Educator Erynn Smith speaking on food and community: