Bounty of Heart's Delight

Veggielution’s annual fundraising dinner, Bounty of Heart’s Delight, will be held at our community farm on Saturday, August 27th. The dinner is our communal celebration of local, sustainably produced food, with over 200 guests in attendance.

                                                                                          Here's a preview of what will be served for dinner. 

Bounty of Heart’s Delight is Veggielution’s premier fundraising event, the proceeds of which benefit our ongoing community engagement and education programs. We believe in the power of food and farming to build not only physical health, but a strong community whose members are working together to create greater economic opportunity in East San Jose. Your support will help extend our community outreach and enable our programs to be accessible to even more people that need them.

This year’s dinner features guest chef Matt Close from the renowned Firehouse No. 1 Gastropub in downtown San Jose. We will follow up the dinner with the crowd favorite Barn Dance. 

WHO'S THE CHEF?

Chef Matt Close

Starting his culinary career as a dishwasher/prep-cook Matt has always loved the restaurant business. Working his way up from line cook, to sous chef for a Michelin starred French Chef, to eventually becoming an Executive Chef, Matt has spent his formative years developing a style of cuisine that is based on the Bay Area’s unique ethnic background. Years of cooking, eating, traveling, and a little drinking, led Matt to create the creative ingredient driven menu at The Firehouse No.1 in downtown San Jose. Once a college dive bar, the Firehouse is now a destination for foodies from all over. Currently Chef Matt is heading up the kitchen at The Halford Gastropub which is due to open this summer in Santa Clara.


Youth Education

Written by Kaitlyn Kuehn, Veggielution Education Intern

Kaitlyn here, a Youth Garden intern for the summer of 2016. I’m originally from Santa Barbara but I am super stoked to have heard about Veggielution as a student at Santa Clara University nearby.

During my time working in the garden, I sometimes feel halfway between an adult and a kid again, especially when I realized it’s been awhile since I’ve been truly entranced by nature. Not just appreciative of, as a Youth Garden intern, and not just defensive of, as an Environmental Studies major, but really taken in by a natural phenomenon. And I realize this because I see kids mesmerized by the garden every Saturday.

For instance, one weekend, two younger boys of about 2 or 3, both wearing orange shirts, became fascinated with a ladybug by one of the raised beds. Their mother and her friend kept trying to redirect their attention, and get them to pull a carrot from the bed, but their eyes kept returning to the ladybug. And they wouldn’t be distracted until the ladybug was safely held by their mother, and they were reassured it would be there when they were done. Only then could they be excited about the baby carrots.

Or more recently, with an older group of 12 year-olds, a 7 year-old (McKenzie) and a 10 year-old (Seymour): we’re standing in the shade, and I’m just about to explain to the group how to find a ripe peach on our over-laden tree, when McKenzie shouts out that there’s a wasp nest on the overhead trellis. We look up, and just above us are 3 or 4 wasps buzzing around their hexagonal hole-filled home. “Look, there’s another one!” A second girl shouts, pointing to a nest just a foot and half away from the first. “And another one!” calls McKenzie, spotting a third. Soon, McKenzie, Seymour, and the group of 12 year olds were pointing out multiple wasp nests on the gazebo under which we stood, much to my fascination and slight horror. “I counted 5!” One kid would call out, followed by another: “Nuh-uh. There’s definitely 8.”

As we watched, temporarily transfixed by the repetitive-stinging machines zipping in and out of the trellis overhang, I realized I had been working in the Youth Garden over a month and had never seen the nests before. True, I wasn’t in every day, and true, I had no idea how long the nests had been there, but I doubt more than half a dozen wasps nests appeared overnight. My coworkers had not seen the nests either, and we discussed how engaged the group had been in the discovery. I thought of the little boys and their ladybug, and how they could not focus on their carrot-pulling tasks until the small red bug was secure. In both instances, I was impressed, but not surprised, by the kids’ awareness.

Because as adults, these experiences have become less remarkable. We don’t remember our first ladybug. We don’t remember the first time we found a wasp nest. These experiences no longer mark anything new or significant, to the extent that we are not even fully aware of them happening in front of us. But for kids, performing these activities and having these experiences for the first time…that is magic. It is distracting and hypnotizing, and captivating in the best way. I am grateful that the Youth Garden provides a space for such new experiences to occur, but equally grateful that its young visitors remind us just how exciting these discoveries can be.


How's it Growing

Written by Colleen Hotchkiss, Farm Manager

The hot weather this month didn't keep us down, as we cruised through some major items on our to-do list and started settling into our new rhythm as farm operations staff. We've reconfigured our schedules to better address the needs of the farm, and I'm excited to announce that we've welcomed Michelle Domocol to the team as our Summer Farm Apprentice. Michelle has been involved with Veggielution as a volunteer in various roles since 2012, supporting our work as a field trip assistant, volunteer coordinator for Bounty of Heart's Delight 2013, intern, and workday leader. She is a horticultural consultant and landscape designer, Certified California Naturalist, and project manager with experience in the U.S., Australia, and the Philippines. Having worked with Michelle in various capacities since I first came to Veggielution in 2012, I'm incredibly excited she'll be contributing her talents to the farm operation as a staff member!

The Flower Share has started and our zinnias, sunflowers, and black-eyed susans are starting to bloom around the farm right on time. This will be the second year that we are growing cut flowers as part of the Farm Box CSA, and we've already made improvements based on what worked well last year and what didn't. We're growing a wide variety of focal and accent flowers as well as specialty greenery, and each week I'll be assembling farm-fresh bouquets for our Flower Share members. We still have spots available so it's not too late to sign up!

Rather than give a run-down of what's been going on at the farm, I'd like to take some time to focus on projects and programs that Veggielution will be working on in the coming months. Although it's a little difficult to think about the shorter, colder winter days while we're in the heat of summer, the reality is that as farmers we're always thinking months in advance (and in many cases even longer) and July is already coming to a close, which means that fall plantings are almost upon us! This year we will once again be planting cover crop on the majority of our acreage in order to rest the soil and replenish nutrients over the course of winter and early spring. As part of our new 8-year crop rotation, the fields we manage with tractor tillage will be used for summer production, rotating crop families from year to year, with a leguminous cover crop during winter. We will be expanding our experimentation with no-till methods to one additional field, giving us year-round production on about ¾ of an acre. These plots will be on a 6-year crop rotation with a more limited number of plant families, and I'm very excited to hone and develop our no-till strategy this coming winter.

Also close on the horizon for the farm operation is the launch of our new HomeGrown Talent program. We are offering paid fellowships focused on urban agriculture entrepreneurship to low-income East San Jose residents as part of a collaborative effort with Somos Mayfair, School of Arts and Culture, Amigos de Guadalupe, and Grail Family Services to build local talent pipelines and strengthen communities in East San Jose. HomeGrown Talent fellows will gain food systems experience and business skills through hands-on and classroom trainings over the course of 6 months. I'm very excited to be leading this new program, which will strengthen Veggielution's connections in East San Jose and provide opportunities for skills-building, knowledge-sharing, and leadership development.


Community Engagement

Written by Brenda Romero, Veggielution Storytelling Intern

Veggielution plays a huge role in social networking and I am not talking about the platforms online, it brings people of different backgrounds together face to face. An example I immediately saw first hand, while volunteering for Veggielution Cocina, our Spanish-language cooking class. During the day I met an array of people from different cultures, and upbringings. What better way of getting to know someone then cooking together. The people in my group consisted of an older couple who came with their daughter and son-in law from Argentina. They shared stories about their motherland and everyone connected with sharing stories about their childhood. We compared traditional dishes from our heritage while cooking something completely new to us.

After we cooked we all sat and ate the delicious hummus and tabbouleh, while getting to know more about one another. Hearing other conversations around me there was a constant exchange of “what do you do?” “That is interesting because I work for…” It hit me as a college student what better way to build my social and professional network then meeting people at places like Veggielution. It is a better way of making a connection then just adding someone on social media, with you never really had a real conversation. I am certain that many people who come to volunteer on the farm meet someone new, which is precisely the direction that our mission is leading us. 

Veggielution connects people through food and farming to build social capital in East San Jose. Through conversations and shared experiences on the farm and in the kitchen, we strengthen the social networks of people from diverse backgrounds to build trust and empower residents to take action in their community.

In the not too distant future there are some exciting things coming our way, starting with building on our team on the farm. On September 1 we'll launch Home Grown Talent, a new collaboration with four other East San Jose organizations. Talking to Colleen Hotchkiss, farm manager, as she cuts wire for the tomato beds, she explains that it is an urban agriculture entrepreneur tract working with Somos Mayfair, School of Arts and Culture, Amigos de Guadalupe and Grail Family Services. This role is to work on projects to provide safety net services, leadership, community engagement services to increase economic opportunities. This program targets the east San Jose residents. Colleen says she is,“really excited for this, we are offering 12 participants to get paid to do workshops, be leaders, and staff the farm stand.”

“This fits in with the strategic plan and is part of the long term. We are looking more towards continuing to build a system for farm operation to be efficient and labor staff interns, and volunteers. The goal for the future is for the farm to be productive, utilizing the space we have and improving soil health,” explains Colleen. “As the farm operation is more dialed it is in itself more of an educational opportunity.”

Veggielution follows the ideas and entrepreneurship that have always been a part of the ever growing Santa Clara Valley. It has provided a place for people to learn about the soil, and what grows from it, while building social capital and social networks of people.


Upcoming Events

Now until August 21st - City Lights Theater featured non-profit

City Lights will donate $5 to Veggielution for every Green Day American Idiot ticket purchased using our set promo code Veggie. Purchase your tickets today to support two awesome San Jose organizations!

City Lights Theater Company presents "Green Day's American Idiot" with music by Green Day; lyrics by Billie Joe Armstrong; book by Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer
directed by Jeffrey Bracco.

Get your tickets here!


August 6th - 1st Saturday!

Veggielution 1st Saturday...better known as our cornucopia* day on the farm. 

We start the morning off with a little Yoga on the Farm (9am), and then we have the Community Farmer Workday (10am), Veggielution Cocina (10am), Youth Garden Activities (10am), Community Potluck (12:30pm), and to end the day with a some Art in the Garden (1:30pm).

All while you can pick up some of freshest veggies in San Jose!

[cornucopia defined as, "a great amount or source of something farmtastic."]

Check out our Facebook event here!


August 9th 5pm to 7:30pm - Food Entrepreneurs Information Session

Join us for a workshop to learn the basic legal and business requirements for starting a food business.

(FOOD TRUCKS, CARTS, AND STANDS, AND SMALL SCALE PROCESSING FOR RETAIL SALE) 

This event is co-sponsored by SAGE (Sustainable Agriculture Education) and Veggielution. 

For more information please contact Poppy Davis, SAGE Program Director at (510) 526-1793 x6, or poppy@sagecenter.org or Cayce Hill, Executive Director, Veggielution at (408) 916-5515 cayceh@veggielution.org
 


August 10th 7pm to 9pm - Emma Prusch Barn Dance

Join us for our next monthly Barn Dance! What is a Barn Dance, you ask? Well, we do a series of lively and fun dances, led by a caller and accompanied by live music. You don't have to know the dances, since they are taught at the beginning of each one. You can come with a partner, or on your own. Either way, you will end up mixing around and dancing with lots of different people. We hope to see you there!

Location: Multicultural Center - The big red building at the main park entrance. 
Entry: $10 at the door, kids 5 and under are free
Hosted by the Prusch Farm Park Foundation


September 10th, 11am to 3pm - Coyote Valley Family Harvest Feast

Join us for the Coyote Valley Family Harvest Feast, a celebration of healthy, delicious, and farm-fresh food, sponsored by Open Space Authority.

Get outside and celebrate the season with your family and friends. Enjoy the bountiful harvest of our local Santa Clara Valley farms and get tips for growing and preparing delicious foods. Want to start growing fruits and vegetables at home? Or introduce your kids to healthy foods? Get advice from expert local chefs, growers, and entrepreneurs.

Learn more about this great event here!