“I always have eaten fresh produce, but seeing the farm in person is always a nice reminder of how much better it is,” — Arcata High School Culinary Student
The California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Farm to Fork (CDFA-F2F) hopes to build meaningful connections between youth and where their food comes from through organizing a series of farm tour field trips for students throughout the state. Efforts to bring the farm into classrooms have seen success in recent years, with initiatives such as school gardens and local produce in school meals gaining popularity. Now, thanks to Specialty Crop Block Grant funding, CDFA-F2F is working to bring classrooms to the farm. Farm tours are valuable experiences that get students out of their classrooms and into the field to encounter firsthand the work that goes into growing and harvesting fruits and vegetables.
CDFA-F2F kicked off its series of specialty crop farm tours on California’s North Coast with the help of Erin Derden-Little, Farm to School Coordinator for the Humboldt County Office of Education and Regional Lead for the California Farm to School Network. On a cloudy February day, a group of culinary students from Arcata High School visited DeepSeeded Farm to learn how a specialty crop farm operates and what kinds of crops were in season. Located within the city of Arcata and only a mile away from Arcata High School, DeepSeeded is a diverse and productive farm offering community supported agriculture (CSA) memberships to Humboldt Bay area households. By using high tunnels and other strategies for season extension, DeepSeeded provides its CSA members with a weekly supply of fresh, seasonal produce well into the winter months.
Farmer Eddie Tanner welcomed the culinary students to his farm and took them on a tour of the field. Tanner showed the students which specialty crops were still growing during the winter season and discussed options for using the seasonal crops in the kitchen. The students then helped harvest cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale and lettuce to use in their culinary activities at school.
“I really enjoyed getting to pick vegetables and learning about all of them individually,” said one student. When asked what they learned on the farm, one student responded that they were surprised by the amount and variety of produce that’s available during winter. Another student said they could immediately taste the difference of fresh food.
Stay tuned for more specialty crop student farm tours in the coming weeks.
– CDFA Farm to Fork Staff
This article is part of a series chronicling the CDFA Office of Farm to Fork’s student farm tours. Made possible by Specialty Crop Block Grant funding, these farm tours aim to increase students’ knowledge of and appreciation for California specialty crops through direct interaction with local specialty crop farmers.