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Farm-to-fork events teach city dwellers, kids about ag

Tim Hearden
Schoolchildren in far Northern California learned about nutrition at a farm-to-fork station during the annual Farm-City Day at the Shasta District Fair grounds in Anderson. Farm-to-fork events are becoming popular around the country, including in Sacramento, where a huge downtown event was slated for Sept. 28.

ANDERSON, Calif. — Children in Andrea Frisbie’s fourth-grade class cheered loudly as their teacher, dressed in a strawberry suit, pedaled a special bicycle to blend a smoothie.

The kids listened as Sara Lefton, a University of California Cooperative Extension nutrition educator, explained about the different ingredients — strawberries, orange juice, kale and other fresh fruits and vegetables.

When she finished pedaling, Frisbie took a sip of the green concoction and gave her thumbs up.

“We’ve done this before and we’ve always enjoyed it,” Frisbie said of her class at Pacheco Elementary School near here. “The kids love it.”

The demonstration was part of the lesson at a “farm to fork” station at the Shasta County Farm Bureau’s 13th annual Farm-City Day on Sept. 25 at the Shasta District Fair grounds, where hundreds of area fourth-graders went from station to station to learn about various aspects of local agriculture.

Using a model of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new MyPlate nutrition guide as a backdrop, UCCE educator Josie Rucklos told children how they can incorporate locally grown foods into a balanced breakfast.

“You’d be surprised how many kids just don’t know where their food comes from,” said Rucklos, who added she was once asked during a farm tour how she put apples up into the trees.

So-called farm-to-fork demonstrations and events are becoming popular across the country as growers and others seek to familiarize people with the stages of food projection — from harvesting and processing to sales and consumption — and inform them about what is grown in their area.

In Sacramento this week, restaurants are offering special menus and promotions as part of a week-long event dubbed America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital. The week began with a cattle drive on Sept. 23, as about 50 steers sauntered from the Tower Bridge down Capitol Mall toward the state Capitol.

The week culminates in the Farm-to-Fork Festival Sept. 28 on Capitol Mall, featuring local farmers and chefs, animal displays, a kids’ zone and live music. As many as 15,000 are expected to attend, said Mike Testa, senior vice president of the Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“The genesis is that we have about 1.5 million acres of agriculture in this region ... not only produce, but wine grapes and protein,” Testa said. “Not only is it feeding the community, but we export so much of the product to the rest of the country that we thought that was worthy of celebrating.”

At the Anderson outing, children were amazed at all the things farmers do.

“I didn’t know you could raise worms,” said Trinity Willburn, 9, of Pacheco School. Her classmate, 9-year-old Gavin Bonner, liked the farm-to-fork lesson.

“I enjoyed the amusement of my teacher’s going up and making a smoothie,” he said.



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