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Learn About Urban Agriculture–The Giving Farm

INC Giving volunteers at The Giving Farm in Orange County, California, found a different way to fight food insecurity by helping at a farm-to-food bank program by harvesting strawberries. Join Darlene who takes us along on their day and learn about urban agriculture and its impact on the local community.


Learn About Urban Agriculture at The Giving Farm


Darlene: They all go in the good pile. All red, no damage. Got it.


Darlene: Good morning, everyone. We are doing our INC Giving activity today. I’ve volunteered at a food bank before, but today we’re volunteering at a farm! A real farm! Here’s the farm!


Darlene: You know, normally you see farms like on long drives, like in the middle of the drive when you’re going from Southern California to Northern California. And those are where you see the farms.


Darlene: That’s where I see the farms. But here we are in Westminster. Farm is right here, freeway, right there. We’re super close.


Darlene: The Giving Farm is also actually nestled right behind the high school, so the students that go to the school can volunteer alongside other local residents to help upkeep the farm.


Darlene: Everyday looks different when you volunteer with The Giving Farm, depending on the season and the weather of the day. Thankfully, we brought our whole team here.


Darlene: There’s cows over there, and goats. Also met a few other local residents who joined. We also met Cindy Tse, the volunteer coordinator here at The Giving Farm.


Cindy Tse: In 2019, CAP OC (Community Action Partnership) who runs the Orange County Food Bank and SFUA, ‘Solutions For Urban Agriculture’ were two nonprofits that came to collaborate on the farm with Westminster High School and the school district, they saw it as a way to give back to the community. And they developed a farm to food bank program.


Cindy Tse:  So everything we grow here at the farm, our cabbage, our broccoli,

our cauliflower, we have squash and watermelon in the summertime, all of that goes to the food bank. And it’s distributed to over 200 of our partner sites.


Cindy Tse:  Today we’re going to be working on harvesting our strawberries. Everything that we harvest today, actually, is all going to go to the food bank. So, yeah, it’ll be really fun.


Darlene: To get started, we paired up, changed our shoes to boots because it rained the past few days and parts of the ground were pretty muddy.


Darlene: We got our little carts and baskets to start filling up, and for some of us we also had to uncover the nets that protect the strawberries.


Darlene: Joe, one of the regular volunteers here at The Giving Farm, gave us a crash course. You don’t want to pull in line with a stem like this because it’ll pull the green part off and then it becomes a “bob berry.”


Darlene: A “bob berry” is another term for the strawberries that are still edible but have slight damage to them or imperfections.


Joe: What you want to do is turn it so the stem is going the other way almost. And then it’s a really quick motion. You just do a little snap and it comes off.


Darlene: So here’s one. I picked that one. Here’s one, that’s too white. There’s a nice red one, so I’m gonna pick it. That’s a good strawberry. OK, second try. Got it. Into the good pile.


Darlene: It’s not ready yet. Definitely not ready yet.


Darlene: Now I understand why they had us change into these tall boots. My hiking boots were not going to cut it.


Darlene: This was our day for about 3 hours. We were split up into two teams because they had multiple strawberry fields and altogether we picked 95 pounds of strawberries. That’s as much as 11 gallons of milk! And all of it was going straight to the Orange County Food Bank.


Darlene: It really does help to have a farm so close to the O.C. Food Bank. And in addition to harvesting, we also packed all of the strawberries.


INC Giving Volunteer: Good enough to eat!


Darlene: Good enough to eat so it goes in the box.


Darlene: Are you packing a certain way? How is this layout going?


INC Giving Volunteer: So they say to pack it so the leaves face down you pack it nicely and it says here on the carton, one pound.


Darlene: And we also pulled weeds that were growing in the strawberry fields and even around the avocado, orange and guava trees, we definitely got a well-rounded farm experience.


INC Giving Volunteer: So this was full of weeds before. 


INC Giving Volunteer: Full of weeds. We cleared all here, so that these beautiful trees won’t be won’t be battling for nutrients from the soil, from the weeds. 


INC Giving Volunteer: Yes. And here’s the area.


Cindy Tse: Food insecurity to me, it kind of what boils down to a lot of social issues, right? Because especially with kids, here at Westminster High School is a Title I school.


Cindy Tse: So a lot of the students here, their families also utilize the food bank. And without nutrition, you don’t have students who can focus in class. You have students who have maybe difficulty struggling, keeping up and that affects their future.


Cindy Tse: It all comes down to the security of your basic needs so food and housing.

Having volunteers come in and also learn about everything that we do at the farm is not only a way, not only are they giving back to the community, but I also want to give back to them through education.


Cindy Tse: And I think that volunteering is a way for people to make an impact where they might not be able to, in other ways.


Darlene: By the end of our time volunteering here at The Giving Farm, we each had a little strawberry stain or two and even some mud splashes.


Eddie Ito: Thank you. Thank you for coming out.


Darlene: More importantly, though, we ended the day with new friends and a new way to give back to our community.


Darlene: Stay tuned to the next time we come back to volunteer at The Giving Farm. Maybe we’ll work on the broccoli next.



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Learn About Urban Agriculture–The Giving Farm