Monday, December 5, 2011

Behind the Scenes

One of the programs we run at CAFF is Harvest of the Month. This is a great program that introduces kiddos to new fruits and vegetables once a month in the classroom. Each month participating teachers get a box of one local produce item to sample with kids. Usually there are two varieties of the item. November featured apples and December is featuring beets! What lucky kids. Just over 1 year ago about 120 classrooms were receiving the boxes, this month there are 485! That is alot of produce being distributed to classrooms.
Last month I went to Watsonville which is just south of Salinas to help pack the apples for the tasting kits. This involved folding the boxes, bagging the apples, putting the apples into the boxes along with a packet of information about the apples, closing the boxes and then stacking them.... over 400 times with 3 people.

My supervisor folding boxes
(Yes, she wears her hair like an 80's rockstar)

Putting the different varieties of apples in the bags

Apples and information in the box

Staking the boxes of apples
(Thats alot of apples!)

Even though it took a while it was fun and I got to see more of the production side of the produce world. Kind of like seeing how produce gets in the boxes one buys at Costco, someone puts them in there. Its repetitive and sometimes tedious and I couldn't do it for a living but it made me appreciate just how inexpensive produce is for the amount of work it takes to go from seed to store.

Workin for the Weekend

Actually I was working on the weekend, but that is okay because working was actually hanging out with new friends and learning how to can and pickle. With so many fellow Americorp memebers working on farms and gardens there is often an end of season abundance of vegetables. This time it was tomatoes. Tons and tons of tomatoes. There are also items that aren't "sellable" garlic, turnips, beets, vegetables that don't look good to consumers so they go to the poor Americorp member. This means that we made tons of tomato sauce and apple sauce as well as canned turnips and pickled beets, carrots, cauliflower, and other delicious farm fresh veggies.
Preparing veggies to go into their jars
One of my four friends (Cara) pouring brine into the jars
Brendan looking thrilled as usual when dragged to another event

The pickled items came out very pickley. I think because there were spices in the brine and in the jar it made it a little more flavorful than what I am used to. But they did look beautiful and are still very delicious. I am waiting for Carrie to come visit so we can eat the pickled beets together because I now B won't go near them. Well, another tough day on the job.