Sammy, his face stained from picking and eating raspberries, came up to me during last Saturday’s Tomato U-Harvest, offering me to taste a berry from a full basket he just picked. “It is a lot of work to pick these”, he commented. I agreed, as I popped a berry in my mouth. “But worth it – they are delicious.”
He then pointed to a stack of boxes filled with tomatoes sitting in the shade of an old Newton Apple tree. “We already have five boxes,” he said excitedly. “Wow, that’s a lot,” I agreed again, trying to spot his parents somewhere among the crowd of pickers. Sammy and his family like to visit the farm and attend our regular community celebrations and farm days. I remember during our last U-Harvest, Sammy didn’t seem to mind the heat while helping his dad harvest Apricots.
It makes me happy to see children running around, exploring the fields, playing with the farm dogs, the goats and chickens. In today’s Fast Food culture we have gotten so removed from the places and soil where our food is grown that often we are suffering from sensorial deprivation; our senses to touch, smell, and taste food are no longer trained to give us a deeper understanding of the environment, ourselves, and the larger community of life we belong to. Why should any child choose to eat an apple if the only choice is a red or green, waxed and tasteless one sitting next to a bag of “Cheetos”?
For 18 years now we have focused on offering sustainably grown, healthy and tasty food, and open the farm to our community as a place for teaching about where our food really comes from and learning about the interconnectedness between humans and the larger natural ecosystem. When children like Sammy come to the farm they can engage their senses to discover the pleasures of real food.
The Live Earth Farm’s Discovery Program has expanded our ability to reach out to children and youth in this county by turning the Farm into a classroom to teach field-to-fork environmental stewardship. Last year over 1400 children and young adults came to the farm, attending farm tours, workshops, summer-camps, and seasonal celebrations. In addition we have on-going programs with the Santa Cruz Montessori School and recently with “Food What?!”, a county youth program organized by UCSC’s Life Lab Program.
Your commitment and financial support have been essential to strengthen and expand the farm’s educational efforts. Our Annual Fundraiser “SLICE” on September 14th is a great opportunity to show your continued support. If you haven’t done so yet, get your tickets now for one of the farm’s more memorable annual events. “SLICE” will be a unique in-the-Apple-orchard dinner, with wonderful food and entertainment.
All of the proceeds will go to inspire our next generation of children and youth about how healthy farms and food lead directly to making healthier choices in their own lives and the community they live in. Thanks for your support and I hope you can join us!