To end our trip, we found ourselves at UC Santa Cruz’s garden which is home to research, a gardener’s program and an organization called Food What?! Doron, from Food What?!, gave us a tour of the UCSC farm on the way to the organization’s own patch of land. We passed through gorgeous fields in front of an ocean view, providing a perfect ending to our Farms by Oceans themed spring break. We got to pick strawberries, see professor’s houses that had been built on perfectly good farmland, and even see a patch where researchers were looking at the effects of vinegar on blueberries.
After the scenic walk, we made it to Food What?!’s site, which, while completely separate from UCSC, is on their property. The program targets low-income and at risk youth that empowers them to make healthier food choices in their lives. Teens are exposed to classes, including “Hip Hop and Soda” and leadership classes as well as learning how to grow and cook dishes incorporating a rainbow of vegetables. Those who complete the program are later able to receive paid jobs with various outreach projects or even receive college credit if needed.
When Doron had to run off, we met James, another farmer in the area who had left his job in Manhattan to be a farmer in the area. James also had a wealth of knowledge and experience about farming and we were able to have many of our questions answered while helping with Food What?! maintenance. We moved compost between bins and spread redwood chips around the areas. Afterwards, we interacted with some pretty funky chickens featuring feathers on their feet.
We also heard Joe’s spotlight while sucking nectar out of some Salvia flowers, which were quite delicious. The highway traffic was brutal on the way back, so we decided to take side roads and passed through some coastal towns that we would not have been able to see. Not long after we had returned “home” (Aliza’s house), we cooked a lovely “Last Supper” and met her wonderful parents.
The night ended late– past 1am!– but we got to reflect on our experiences this past week and learned more about Grace’s life with some Trader Joe’s goodies. It’s too early to write a final reflection on this trip, as we still have 11 hours before it officially ends, but thank you to all of you who have been following our adventures! We hope you’ve had as much fun as we have had exploring things outside of the classroom.