Farm Discovery responds to urgent COVID19 need with fresh, organic produce for community members most in need. In partnership with Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes, Holy Cross Food Pantry, Encompass Community Services Transitional Age Youth (TAY) program, Esperanza Community Farms and a growing number of agencies to make sure fresh, local produce graces the kitchens of our most vulnerable community members, kids, families, farmworkers, former foster youth, seniors and those experiencing homelessness. This pivot ensures that the produce being grown for field trips, summer camps, farm immersions and more still makes it to the local kids Farm Discovery works with when not Sheltering in Place.
Watsonville, CA, May 28, 2020 – Farm Discovery is partnering with Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes, Encompass Services TAY program, Esperanza Community Farms and Holy Cross Food Pantry to ensure the children, families, farmworkers, former foster youth, seniors and those experiencing homelessness in our community have access to fresh produce. With the current Shelter-in-Place in order, Farm Discovery is finding new and creative ways to distribute the produce grown for on- farm education programs, improve the community’s health and build resilience against COVID-19.
In the past weeks and months Farm Discovery has planted, irrigated, weeded and worked several acres of beans, strawberries, greens like kale and lettuce, tomatoes, peppers and more. During a normal year, the produce harvested from these fields would be used with hundreds of kids per season in nutrition lessons, cooking, canning, pickling & farming projects and more. As soon as the Shelter in Place order starting in March, Farm Discovery began to expand their farming program, foreseeing a growing need for fresh produce.
Food banks, pantry and meal programs are emptying quickly and seeing a doubling and tripling of clients in need of food assistance. People who eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, who are not experiencing obesity or its related conditions are less at risk of dying from COVID-19. So according to Farm Discovery Executive Director, Jessica Ridgeway, “all this work we have been doing to support our local food system, support local farming, build community around local farms, farmer’s markets, and growing your own food is proving to be a smart tactic for resilience to the very risks we now face. So now we at Farm Discovery are jumping in to help get fresh fruits and vegetables to those pantry programs too.”
Since the beginning of April, Farm Discovery has coordinated delivery of almost 2000 pounds of fresh, organic produce to Santa Cruz and Monterey County residents experiencing lack of food access during COVID-19. This program reduces food waste in addition to ensuring fresh food access for a wide range of community members facing the challenges of the pandemic.
“We may not be able to do things the way we once did, but we are still dedicated to empowering youth and families to build and sustain healthy relationships with food, farming, social and natural systems. Our goal is still to reach out to all segments of the community with an emphasis on low-income, diverse, and underserved populations of the Pajaro Valley. We work to transform personal and community health and improve our impact on earth,” says Farm Discovery Education Director, Lucie Ashley
Farm Discovery will continue through 2021 to increase and improve food access in the surrounding counties that need it the most, and in the meantime, wait for the kiddos to return for more on-farm learning!
Jessica Ridgeway, Executive Director