Today's post comes from intern Madison Conrado! Madison shares her experience with SPROUTS! and the many opportunities offered to our community.
The farm to table movement has been sweeping plates across America and now more than ever people want fresh, local, organic foods. Lucky for us we happen to live in the largest agricultural state in the country and Santa Barbara County is filled with tons of local farms. However, fresh fruits and vegetables are not the only thing many of these farms have to offer. In addition to the local and seasonal produce grown and sold, some farms also offer educational workshops, community outreach, and numerous activities and opportunities for the public to become involved on the farm. One farmstead in particular that has close ties to UCSB and is a leader in our community is the Center for Urban Agriculture at Fairview Gardens. Their mission revolves around building critical connections between community, agriculture, and education and the farm has established numerous programs and events over the years to continue their mission day in and day out.
From infants to adults, the farm has something to offer everyone. There are after school and home school programs, summer camps, teen farm apprentice programs, infants and toddlers, and numerous volunteer and college internships. Each of these programs offers diverse approaches to educating its patrons and one of the more unique opportunities Fairview offers is SPROUTS! A program for infants and toddlers on the farm SPROUTS! offers an inclusive, natural space for youngsters to play and explore. The farm is an ideal place for them to learn about the outdoors, become connected to the natural world, and develop a fun and healthy relationship with food. When kids come out on Fairview’s organic farm they are exposed to a variety of new things and have a lot of ‘firsts.’ A typical day starts with opening circle involving songs and movements, exploring in the garden, and visiting the chickens. In addition, every week kids harvest and prepare simple snacks together with farm ingredients. One of the amazing parts of this program is exposing the kids to fresh fruits and vegetables that they might otherwise not try. However, when toddlers are on the farm with their other little peers and they actually get to pick their food as well as help make it, the kids not only see the whole process of their food going from the farm to their plates, they are apart of it.
The program aims to instill common knowledge and appreciation for the environment and help the kids develop lasting connections with their food.
Tim Heuer, Executive Director at Fairview Gardens stated “I am extremely motivated by providing a dynamic space for the next generation of farmers, food consumers, and farm educators to learn, share, and grow. Fairview Gardens is a dynamic living laboratory, whose purpose is so necessary in this rapidly changing world.” With the opportunity for anyone to become involved, Fairview is an amazing place for people of all ages to come out and explore!