Visit a Farm or Ranch - California Agricultural Tourism Directory
California Agricultural Tourism Directory
California Agricultural Tourism Directory
California Agricultural Tourism Directory
University of California
California Agricultural Tourism Directory

UC Food Blog

A Sacramento coalition wants to serve 1 million healthy meals to children this summer

When school's out, many children who live in poverty no longer eat nutritious meals like they do during school as part of the free and reduced-cost school lunch program.

UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) in Sacramento County has joined a coalition to promote the summer meals program, which is aiming to serve one million meals during summer 2018.

UC ANR's EFNEP program staffed a booth along with the UC Master Food Preserver Program at the Million Meals Summer picnic for Sacramento youth.

The coalition was formed by State Sen. Richard Pan, who invited Sacramento students to the State Capitol for a picnic May 22 launching the “Million Meals Summer.”

“In Sacramento County, on average 1.9 million free or reduced-price lunches are served each month while school is in session,” said Sen. Pan. “For so many of these children, school meals are their primary source of nutrition.”

Sen. Robert Pan, in center with white shirt, dances with children at the Million Meals Summer picnic.

In the summertime, the number of lunches served drops to less than 10 percent of the school-year number.

“Over the last couple of years, my office has worked with a growing number of organizations to help close the gap of child nutrition,” Sen. Pan said.

At the picnic, Sen. Pan, a pediatrician, reminded the children that eating healthy through the summer will get them ready to learn when school starts again.

Students enjoyed a healthy lunch.

Sen. Pan said Kim Frinzel, associate director of the California Department of Education nutrition services division, is leading the effort to set up sufficient meal sites and encourage children to attend.

“You get a great meal,” Frinzel told the students. “You get to hang out with your friends. And you get to participate in fun activities. Clap if you will help us serve a million meals.”

Linda Dean, left, and Vanessa Kenyon of Sacramento EFNEP.

Vanessa Kenyon, EFNEP program supervisor for Sacramento and San Joaquin counties, said EFNEP will provide nutrition education training for Samuel Merritt University nurses-in-training.

“Summer meals are provided at 140 sites in Sacramento County. If the children stick around after eating, they can take part in enrichment programs. The student nurses will fulfill a portion of their service hours by sharing nutrition education resources and activities at the meal sites,” Kenyon said.

The UC EFNEP program, which serves 24 counties in California, assists limited-resource families gain the knowledge and skills to choose nutritionally sound diets and improve well-being.

The United Way California Capital Region heads the coalition of community, business and state partners supporting the Million Meals Summer in Sacramento County.

 
 
Physical activities at the picnic included parachute play.
 
UC Cooperative Extension apiculture specialist Elina Niño shared information with students at the picnic about the lives of bees.
 
A few students from American Lakes Elementary School said they would be eating at summer meal sites. Left to right are James Dixon, 9, Yahaira Ramirez, 11, Diana De La Cerda, 12, and Eduardo Liscano, 9.
 
UC ANR marketing and communications specialist Suzanne Morikawa, center, fills in a visitor about EFNEP's role in the community.
Posted on Wednesday, May 23, 2018 at 1:19 PM

Growing gardeners and nourishing communities

Fresh picked beets from a raised garden bed at Fair Oaks Horticulture Center, the main food demonstration garden for the UC Master Gardener Program of Sacramento County.

Spring is here, and oftentimes the busiest season of the year for gardeners to plant edibles with dreams of ripe tomatoes and rows of juicy strawberries. But what about the “non” gardeners, you know the people who struggle to keep a cactus alive? Is there hope for a plentiful harvest for those self-identified terrible gardeners? Absolutely.

Food gardening takes some work, but if you have the determination and are willing to get your hands dirty, UC Master Gardener Program volunteers are eager to help you find success. Across almost every county in California there are passionate UC Master Gardener volunteers eager to turn your dreams of a bountiful summer harvest into a reality.

Mike G., UC Master Gardener volunteer in Solano County, shows participants irrigation parts for their home vegetable garden.

Sonoma County finds success with “Food Gardening Specialists”

The UC Master Gardener Program of Sonoma County has spent almost a decade perfecting the art of teaching best practices for food gardening. They have found a winning formula for food gardening workshops that focus on hands-on learning and interactive demonstrations in the garden. A group of UC Master Gardener volunteers with a passion for growing edible plants joined forces and started a project aptly named “Food Gardening Specialist.”

Food Gardening Specialists receive initial training in food gardening with curriculum developed by UC Agriculture & Natural Resources experts. After initial training, volunteers continue to grow their food gardening skills with monthly speakers, discussions groups and field trips. These highly skilled and trained volunteers teach food gardening at community or demonstrations gardens across Sonoma County, where anyone is welcome to attend. 

Understanding the need to expand reach in Sonoma County, the project identified four key gardens to engage more diverse communities. Garden “captains” build relationships within these gardens, advising home gardeners and developing gardening workshops that are relevant to their community's needs. One of the core gardens provides year-round fresh produce to a number local food banks and programs that feed the hungry.

Food Gardening Specialist workshop at the Harvest for the Hungry Garden on May 12, 2018. Tobi Brown, UC Master Gardener, demonstrates how to feed and protect the soil as a garden bed transitions from spring to summer.

Stephanie Wrightson: Sonoma County Volunteer of the Year

A shining example of a dedicated Food Gardening Specialist is Stephanie Wrightson, who recently was awarded Sonoma County's Board of Supervisors “Volunteer of the Year” award. Wrightson has been a UC Master Gardener volunteer since 2010 and a member of the Food Gardening Specialist project since 2011. 

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors recently recognized Stephanie Wrightson with the 2018 Volunteer of the Year Award for her exceptional contributions as a UC Master Gardener volunteer in Sonoma County!

Wrightson has donated more than 3,200 hours to the UC Master Gardener Program, most revolve around food gardening outreach.

“We put on public food gardening workshops, with Spanish translators, and demonstrate sustainable best practices in the garden ... invaluable. We interact, consult, advise. We learn from each other,” Wrightson said. “Food Gardening Specialists share science-based and sustainable food gardening information with garden visitors and workshop attendees. The gardens have quickly become a social hub in the neighborhood, bringing the community closer together.”

It is clear that Wrightson's role doesn't stop at the garden's gate. Wrightson was essential in shaping the vision of the Food Gardening Specialist project while serving on its steering committee and as a project leader. She manages efforts to keep all of the food gardening content updated, posted online or shared on its social media channels. Wrightson also works closely with the translation team to identify the most popular food gardening topics to make them available in Spanish.

“Stephanie brings such an attention to detail and focus on everything she engages in; we are so grateful to have such a talented UC Master Gardener as part of our organization,” said Mimi Enright, program manager for the UC Master Gardener Program of Sonoma County. 

Stephanie Wrightson, UC Master Gardener, teaching residents of Sonoma County about sustainable gardening practices and how to grow their own food at the Bayer Farm Neighborhood Park & Garden.

Where is food grown in your community? 

Do you grow your own food or get homegrown food from a neighbor who gardens? Is there a community garden nearby, or a farmers market with locally grown fruits and vegetables?

“It's becoming more important to understand where our food comes from and to make sure everyone knows how to enjoy its benefits,” said Missy Gable, statewide director for the UC Master Gardener Program.

The UC Master Gardener Program provides the public with research-based information about food gardening, home horticulture, sustainable landscapes, and pest management practices. It is administered locally by UC Cooperative Extension offices that are the principal outreach and public service arms of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources. If you are interested in learning more about food gardening or would like to connect with your local UC Master Gardener Program visit, mg.ucanr.edu

The UC Master Gardener Program has demonstration, community and school gardens across California. Contact your local UC Master Gardener Program to find the closest garden or workshop near you.

Trusted UC Food Gardening Resources: 

Posted on Friday, May 18, 2018 at 9:27 AM

Growers get help from UC in estimating raspberry production costs

When growers are considering a new crop to plant, and penciling out their expenses and income, cost estimates from the University of California may help. A new cost and return study for commercially producing raspberries released by UC ANR Agricultural Issues Center and UC Cooperative Extension includes an expanded section on labor.

Sample costs to establish, produce and harvest raspberries for fresh market in Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito counties are presented in “Sample Costs to Produce and Harvest Fresh Market Raspberries in the Central Coast Region – 2017.”

“The study focuses on the many complexities and costs of primocane raspberry production over a three-year period, including crop establishment, fertility practices, overhead tunnel management, harvest and rising labor costs," said Mark Bolda, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor and co-author of the study.

The analysis is based upon a hypothetical well-managed farming operation using practices common to the region. The costs, materials, and practices shown in this study will not apply to all farms. Growers, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisors and other agricultural associates provided input and reviewed the methods and findings of the study.

“This raspberry cost and return study is the result of significant effort on the part of UC Cooperative Extension, the Agricultural Issues Center and several grower and industry collaborators, who shared their expertise and contributed mightily to the end product,” said Laura Tourte, UC Cooperative Extension farm management advisor and co-author of the study.

This study assumes a farm size of 45 contiguous acres of rented land. Raspberries are planted on 42 acres. The crop is hand-harvested and packed into 4.5-pound trays. There is a fall harvest during production year 1, a spring and fall harvest during production year 2, and a spring harvest during production year 3. Each harvest is three months long.

The authors describe the assumptions used to identify current costs for production material prices and yields. Tables show the phase-in schedules for California's minimum wage and overtime laws through the year 2022. Other tables show the monthly cash costs, the costs and returns per acre, hourly equipment costs, and the whole farm annual equipment, investment and business overhead costs.

Free copies of “Sample Costs to Produce and Harvest Fresh Market Raspberries in the Central Coast Region - 2017” can be downloaded from the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics website https://coststudies.ucdavis.edu. Sample cost of production studies for many other commodities are also available at the website.

The cost and returns studies program is funded by the UC Agricultural Issues Center and UC Cooperative Extension, both of which are part of the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

For additional information or an explanation of the calculations used in the studies, contact the UC Agricultural Issues Center at (530) 752-4651 or UC Cooperative Extension advisors Mark Bolda at (831) 763-8025 or Laura Tourte at (831) 763-8005 in Santa Cruz County.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on Monday, May 7, 2018 at 2:31 PM

UC Global Food Initiative Fellows gather to discuss food system changemaking

Sustainability. Food justice. Research to action. These were the themes discussed April 13–14, 2018, as emerging food leaders throughout the UC system gathered in San Diego for a tour titled “The Rooted University: Bridging food system changemaking on and off campus.”

The trip brought together nearly two dozen 2018 Global Food Initiative Fellows, all of whom are working on projects that advance the mission of the UC-wide Global Food Initiative. This strategic initiative was started in 2014 by UC President Janet Napolitano to align the university's research to develop and export solutions — throughout California, the United States and the world — for food security, health and sustainability. The initiative funds student-generated research, related projects or internships that focus on food issues. All 10 UC campuses, plus UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, participate in the program.

“We need to start thinking of the interconnectedness of our research, and begin to implement place-based solutions that take into account the environment, food-security, and sustainability,” said UC San Diego professor Keith Pezzoli as he welcomed the GFI fellows. Pezzoli, who leads the UC San Diego Bioregional Center for Sustainability Science, Planning and Design, hosted the GFI fellows for the weekend. Pezzoli and his team led the fellows to multiple campus and community-based projects that are implementing collaborative, innovative solutions that advance food security, environmental sustainability and economic prosperity. GFI fellows were tasked to think of their projects critically and use the trip to gather ideas and inspiration for their own projects and in their work as future food leaders.

This year's GFI Fellows are working on projects that range from addressing food security and basic needs on UC campuses, to capturing the culture of eating through film, and from efforts to connect water salinity to crop yield, to creating energy-generating agricultural covers.

Ellie's Garden

Working in Ellie’s Garden teaches gardening and sustainability practices to UCSD students, who grow food and herbs while composting food waste from on-campus restaurants, creating a sustainable, closed-loop campus-based food system.

The trip started with tours of UCSD-based projects that implement research and student and civic engagement to create closed-loop food systems and create opportunities for innovation. Ellie's Garden, located in between UCSD campus dormitories, exemplifies sustainable gardening practices. The garden, which composts food waste from on-campus restaurants, was established to utilize the space in between dormitories in a more efficient way.

“By using food waste from campus restaurants to create compost that then helps develop fresh food for students, this garden is taking the food system into the entire campus. With this example, we're really walking the talk on campus,” Pezzoli said.

Ellie’s Garden fosters leadership in UCSD students, who serve as chairs of the garden and educate their peers on gardening and sustainability.

Triton Food Pantry

The GFI fellows then visited the Triton Food Pantry, which was established in 2015 following the launch of the Global Food Initiative. The pantry provides UCSD students with greater access to healthy foods, including grains, proteins, and fresh fruits and vegetables. The pantry also helps to enroll students into CalFresh, a federally funded program (formerly known as "food stamps") that provides cash aid to low-income individuals who need food assistance. On average, Triton Food Pantry serves 600 students per week. In the 2016-2017 academic year, 10,000 student visits were logged overall.

Triton Food Pantry was started in 2015 with funding from the Global Food Initiative. The pantry serves 600 UCSD students on average every week, and served a total of 10,000 student visits in academic year 2016-2017.

Roger's Community Garden

A UCSD student discussed a closed-circuit aquaponic system created at Roger’s Garden. Multiple UCSD students as well as GFI fellows conduct research projects in the garden with the goal of replicating and scaling to gardens outside of UCSD and in the community.

Fellows then headed to Roger's Community Garden, a student-run garden that offers land to students, staff, faculty and alumni to grow herbs, flowers, fruits and vegetables and conduct student-led research. With projects ranging from hydroponics, aeroponics, and anaerobic digestion, the UCSD students who work in the garden come from different majors and different backgrounds, but are united in their love for food and gardening.

“The garden allows us to take scientific innovation and reduce it down to something that is scalable and easy,” said a UCSD student involved in Roger's Garden.

GFI fellows visited Roger’s Community Garden, a UCSD-based garden that offers land to students, staff, faculty and alumni to grow herbs, flowers, fruits and vegetables and conduct student-led research.

Dinner with UC Agriculture and Natural Resources - advising California for 150 years

The first day of the trip ended with a presentation by and dinner with advisors from UC's Agricultural and Natural Resources. Ramiro E. Lobo, small farm and agricultural economics advisor for UC Cooperative Extension in San Diego County, gave the GFI fellows basic information about the farming landscape in San Diego County and introduced the five UC ANR Strategic Initiatives. Lobo, who specializes in agricultural economics and marketing, talked about the challenges of farming in San Diego and the future of agricultural economics.

“San Diego,” Lobo said, “has the one of the highest prices of agricultural water in the world. The majority of our farms are small, specialty crop farms. So now, many growers and shutting off the water and letting their land dry up.”

In order to combat these issues and drive sales, Ramiro helps farmers market their products and share their stories.

“We're moving towards a ‘value-based' model of marketing,” said Lobo. “I help farmers figure out what their personal farming stories are and help share those stories with the public, a model that's really helping to drive sales.”

Fellows then enjoyed dinner with ANR advisors from throughout Southern California and discussed student-led topics related to food security, water quality, federal food programs and research ethics. With areas of work ranging from water quality to crop science, and from federal food programs to agricultural tourism, conversations were rich and varied as ANR advisors answered students' questions and shared their expertise.

UC ANR advisors joined the GFI fellows for dinner and discussion on the future of food systems. From left to right: Oli Bachie (Imperial County); Chutima Ganthavorn, (Riverside and San Bernardino); Laurent Ahiablame, (San Diego); Natalie Price (Los Angeles) and Ramiro Lobo (San Diego)

“It was so interesting to hear the ANR advisors' perspectives on their particular issues. Also, I was really inspired by the wide range of expertise and backgrounds present among the advisors. Each one brings their own unique perspective to the work, and I enjoyed learning how each of their focus areas connected,” said GFI Fellow Mackenzie Feldman, an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley.  

Ocean View Growing Grounds

The second day of the trip kicked off with a tour of the Ocean View Growing Grounds (OVGG), a project of the Global Action Research Center that operates on a 20,000-square-foot property in southeastern San Diego. In partnership with UC San Diego and the Global Food Initiative, the OVGG has established a community garden, two food forests and a Learning/Action Research Center developed with local neighborhood residents. The OVGG also hosts the Neighborhood Food Network, a group of residents interested in growing and distributing food. Through this network, San Diego residents build dynamic neighborhood hubs that revolve around increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

Paul Watson, President and CEO of the Global Action Research Center, introduces the Ocean View Growing Gardens to GFI fellows. “Not only do we apply the latest environmental research through our partnership with UCSD, but we’ve worked closely with community leaders and learned how to use food as a organizing tool in this neighborhood,” Watson said.

Deron White (center in white shirt), community outreach specialist with the OVGG, takes GFI fellows on a tour around his neighborhood. “I got involved with the garden so I can be a liason to my community,” White said. There had to be community buy-in for the garden, so I helped with that. Now, the garden is a space where we can just come together and bond.”

Jacobs Center and Kitchens for Good

Fellows then enjoyed lunch with Kitchens for Good, a nonprofit catering service that aims to break the cycles of food waste, poverty and hunger through innovative programs in workforce training, healthy food production and social enterprise. Kitchens for Good is located within the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, a “creative catalyst and incubator” that partners with residents, local leaders and organizations, as well as regional and national investors, to revitalize southeastern San Diego, a culturally diverse yet under-served area that is prime for investment and transformation.

“We don't just want to teach residents how to fish, we want to teach residents how to buy the lake that the fish swim in,” said Bennett Peji, Jacobs Center's senior director of marketing and community affairs.

Since its inception, the organization has revitalized a nearby creek, built a metro station with the second-highest amount of traffic in the county, constructed a low-income apartment complex and built a shopping mall that includes the first full-service grocery store in the community. In a community where the high school has a 50 percent dropout rate, the Jacobs Center has had a transformational impact.

Bennett Peji of the Jacobs Center (left of center in white shirt) discuss economic justice with GFI fellows. “Our role is to convene partners, create models that work and see how nonprofits can better serve the community,” Peji said.

“After this trip, I am full of new ideas, energy and confidence that can I make a difference. I now know I need to find the right partners and keep believing that solutions to food justice and environmental sustainability are possible,” said Holly Mayton, GFI Fellow and PhD student at UC Riverside. “My thoughts and ideas are really falling into place, and I am creating a new framework for action and results.”

Additional resources:

Fact Sheet: UC Global Food Initiative Accomplishments


Posted on Thursday, April 26, 2018 at 1:12 PM

New labor laws factored into UC cost studies for table grape production

Flame Seedless
To help table grape growers make decisions on which varieties to grow, the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' Agricultural Issues Center has released four new studies on the costs and returns of table grapes in the Southern San Joaquin Valley. The studies on different table grape varieties are each based on a 500-acre farm with vineyard establishment on 40 acres.

The studies focus on four table grape varieties. There are two early maturing varieties, Flame Seedless and Sheegene-21, that begin harvest in July, one mid-season maturing, Scarlet Royal, and one late maturing, Autumn King, which begins harvest in October. The studies estimate the cost of establishing a table grape vineyard and producing fresh market table grapes.

“Labor costs are expected to rise with reduced labor availability, increases in minimum wage rates and new overtime rules that went into effect in 2018,” said Ashraf El-kereamy, UCCE viticulture advisor in Kern County and co-author of the cost studies.

“We included detailed costs for specialized hand labor of certain cultural and harvest operations.”

Sheegene-21
The sample costs for labor, materials, equipment and custom services are based on January 2018 figures. A blank column, titled “Your Cost,” is provided in Tables 2 and 3 for growers to enter their own estimated costs.

“The new California minimum wage law will gradually decrease the number of hours employees can work on a daily and weekly basis before overtime wages are required. There are additional stipulations for overtime wages and scheduling of work that are part of the new law,” said Daniel Sumner, director of the Agricultural Issues Center. 

Input and reviews were provided by UC ANR Cooperative Extension farm advisors, specialists, grower cooperators, California Table Grape Commission and other agricultural associates. The authors describe the assumptions used to identify current costs for table grape establishment and production, material inputs, cash and non-cash overhead. A ranging analysis table shows profits over a range of prices and yields. Other tables show the monthly cash costs, the costs and returns per acre, hourly equipment costs, and the whole farm annual equipment, investment and business overhead costs.

Scarlet Royal
The new studies are:

  • “2018 - Sample Costs to Establish and Produce Table Grapes in the Southern San Joaquin Valley – Flame Seedless, Early Maturing”
  • “2018 - Sample Costs to Establish and Produce Table Grapes in the Southern San Joaquin Valley – Sheegene-21 (Ivory™), Early Maturing”
  • “2018 - Sample Costs to Establish and Produce Table Grapes in the Southern San Joaquin Valley – Scarlet Royal, Mid-season Maturing”
  • “2018 - Sample Costs to Establish and Produce Table Grapes in the Southern San Joaquin Valley – Autumn King, Late Maturing”

All four table grape studies can be downloaded from the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics website at http://coststudies.ucdavis.edu. Sample cost of production studies for many other commodities are also available at the website.

Autumn King
For additional information or an explanation of the calculations used in the studies, contact Donald Stewart at the Agricultural Issues Center at (530) 752-4651 or destewart@ucdavis.edu.

For information about local table grape production, contact UC Cooperative Extension viticulture specialist Matthew Fidelibus at mwfidelibus@ucanr.edu, UCCE viticulture advisor Ashraf El-kereamy in Kern County at aelkereamy@ucanr.edu, UCCE entomology advisor David Haviland in Kern County at dhaviland@ucdavis.edu, UCCE weed advisor Kurt Hembree in Fresno County at kjhembree@ucanr.edu, or UCCE viticulture advisor George Zhuang in Fresno County at gzhuang@ucanr.edu.

Posted on Tuesday, April 17, 2018 at 8:40 AM

First storyPrevious 5 stories  |  Next 5 stories | Last story

 
E-mail
 
Webmaster Email: paleff@ucdavis.edu