Written by: Luisa Accorsi, FoodCorps Service Member with Conejo Valley Unified School District
Getting connected is a big goal for the participants of the South Central Coast Regional of the CA Farm to School Network. This particular network includes Conejo Valley, Ventura, Rio, Oxnard, Hueneme, and Ojai. Last month we threw a mixer with the intention of bringing together our food service directors, farmers, and garden and nutrition educators so that we could get to know one another better and show each other what we’re doing at our sites. The mixer took place on March 24th at the Ventura Agricultural Museum, a beautiful building full of old farming equipment, the perfect setting for a farm to school mixer. Small cocktail tables were scattered throughout the room, which was surrounded by larger tables where some of our experts were set up to tell us about their projects. The nutrition educators’ table was strewn with lesson plans and broccoli salad, the Harvest of the Month salad for March. The food service table had student-approved kale chips and roasted veggies for us to sample and hear stories of children begging for kale. Of course the school garden table was complete with adorable student-made seed packs and gardening tips.
After milling around to look at the tables and talk with whomever was nearby, we took our wine, beer, or specialty margaritas and settled down to listen to some presentations from the different districts. We got to see hundreds of photos of how farm to school looks in each of these districts, some of them run similarly, and others are quite different. We got to learn how farm to school looks when a school doesn’t have a garden, or how it looks when there’s an entire student farm, or a large participation in school lunches. After stuffing our heads full of inspiring stories, we dispersed again, went to the Scratch Food Truck to get burgers or quinoa bowls, and continued to mingle. Once our bellies and minds were satiated, we went home, ready to bring our newfound knowledge and inspiration back to our districts. The mixer did just what it was supposed to do: we mixed. Hopefully the first of many regional mixers, this was a great start toward our goal of working together.
For more information about how to become involved with food alliances along the southern central coast, please visit the regional page.