USDA funds summer food awareness program
A five-month food awareness program kicked off on Wednesday, June 6 at the Downtown Farmers’ Market in Santa Cruz. In an effort to expand producer-to-consumer market opportunities in the county, the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has provided funding to help launch food-centric programs throughout the area.
The program, called the Foodshed Project, will put on celebrations on the first Wednesday of each month between June and October at the Downtown Farmers’ Market. The events will consist of activities such as “mini-classes, storytelling, and tastings facilitated by the Santa Cruz Community Farmers’ Market (SCCFM) farmers and food artisans,” and are meant to engage the community firsthand.
“The Foodshed Project is the first major effort in realizing a long-term goal to develop and direct educational programming in the county,” says Nicki Zahm of the SCCFM. “The goals for these events are to educate and inspire the public about food issues and draw their attention to some very important work being done by farmers, food artisans, and community-based organizations in the nearest reaches of our foodshed.”
The first event, June’s “Strawberry Bonanza,” brought crowds at the market together over storytelling by Swanton Berry Farms, a strawberry shortcake “Make It and Taste It” demonstration with Companion Bakeshop, a strawberry hunt, a children’s face-painting station, live music, and more.
“I think partnership building and collaboration are at the core of this work,” says Zahm. “It only makes sense that the farmers’ markets, a place where farmers and food artisans interact directly with the public, would become a space for educational programming. Education happens at farmers’ markets in informal and essential ways every day but this will take it to another level in Santa Cruz.”
Though this is the first year of the project, the SCCFM hopes to make it an annual series. For more information, visit santacruzfarmersmarket.org.