Farm Partnership Benefits Family Resource Center Clients

By Aimee Sisson of Root Cause Farm

Vegetable tasting participants sample heirloom tomatoes, lemon cucumbers, and Sungold cherry tomatoes at the West Sacramento Family Resource Center.

Vegetable tasting participants sample heirloom tomatoes, lemon cucumbers, and Sungold cherry tomatoes at the West Sacramento Family Resource Center.

Throughout this growing season, I have partnered with the Yolo County Children’s Alliance West Sacramento Family Resource Center (FRC) to increase access to fruits and vegetables and expose both young and old to growing and eating fruits and vegetables.

In early August, I hosted a veggie tasting at the FRC during the Center’s weekly food distribution.  Aiming to expand vegetable horizons, I offered free samples of Sungold cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, and lemon cucumbers to adventurous participants.  I chose these vegetables because their unusual appearances may cause some to shy away from purchasing and eating them.  Sungold cherry tomatoes are very sweet, but their orange color when ripe makes those accustomed to red cherry tomatoes think they are underripe.  Heirloom tomatoes, with their unique shapes and colors, strike those used to red slicing tomatoes as strange.  Lemon cucumbers, which look like a lemon but taste like a standard cucumber minus the bitter skin, may similarly frighten marketgoers who are unfamiliar with them.  However, once provided with explanations of each vegetable, most participants in the vegetable tasting were willing to try something new and several walked away with a new favorite vegetable.

In September, the FRC’s Play School Experience class visited my farm on a field trip.  The trip began with a tour of the farm, during which the preschool-age children and their parents had the opportunity to learn how vegetables grow and what each type of vegetable plant looks like.  After the tour, the kids got their hands dirty with a planting activity, carefully transplanting basil seedlings into a pot to take home and grow themselves.  According to their teacher, Nancy Ledesma, “The parents and our children loved the experience.” Similarly, I really enjoyed interacting with the energetic youngsters, whose genuine curiosity about the farm was refreshing.

Preschoolers eagerly await their turn to pot up a basil seedling.

Preschoolers eagerly await their turn to pot up a basil seedling.

The Play School Experience class shows off their basil seedlings while visiting Root Cause Farm.

The Play School Experience class shows off their basil seedlings while visiting Root Cause Farm.

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This fall, I plan to partner with the FRC on one more activity, this time teaching a class to parents of young children about the health benefits of fruits and vegetables, along with how and where they can use EBT and WIC benefits to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables.  Next season, I hope to continue the partnership, working together to improve the health of the Broderick neighborhood by increasing residents’ access to fruits and vegetables.

***This post is part of our series of “Tales from the Specialty Crop Ambassadors” – blog posts written by farmers working with the Center for Land-Based Learning  in Winters, CA. The Specialty Crop Ambassadors are spearheading projects that support consumption, education, and access to California specialty crops.***

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