2015 Reflection

Dear Veggielutionaries,

Happy New Year!  I hope you all enjoyed some well-deserved rest and rejuvenation over the holidays.  While the much-awaited rain falls here at the farm, the Veggielution Crew has been hard at work planning for another great year.

I would like to extend a special note of appreciation for all of your generous support in 2015.  Your financial contributions make it possible for us to dream big by rediscovering our East San Jose roots.  As we embark on 2016, I look forward to finding new and exciting ways to celebrate the great city of San Jose by bringing diverse cultures and local leaders to the table (for some fresh local veggies, no doubt) together.  I am excited to be working in such a strong collaborative of local organizations that strengthens community ties through food access, civic engagement, education, and arts and culture programs.  

Thank you for believing in us over the years and for joining us on the exciting journey ahead.


Cayce Hill, Executive Director

Community Connections

Emily Schwing - Program Manager


The word community holds a different meaning for each individual. We have been talking a lot about community building here at the farm lately and we will continue to strive to build community with every program that we offer. Building community is sometimes hard to conceptualize when you first start to think about the idea. I love learning the meaning of words and when challenged to think about what a sense of community means, I automatically looked up the root meaning of community. Most were not a surprise, such as common place, commonness, society, fellowship, common ownership. I was most intrigued when I came across a variety of a latin root. They split the word into the words munus, which means gift, and cum, which means together. They defined these roots as "to give among each other." Our newest program, Veggielution Cooks, embodies this definition of community. Veggielution Cooks is generously supported by the Sobrato Family Foundation.

Veggielution Cooks will bring together a guest chef and 20 participants to cook healthy, seasonal, affordable, and culturally-relevant meals on the first Saturday of every month. Guest chefs will be local restaurateurs, talented home cooks, and Veggielution farm box members. Participants will practice basic to intermediate food preparation and kitchen skills in an intimate and friendly setting. In addition to taking home a prepared meal, classmates will share dishes they made together with other Veggielutionaries at our Saturday potluck lunch.

For me, cooking is one of the strongest and most personal levels of sharing that I could do with someone else. I’m creating a meal with my own hands that will nourish someone else, and when I cook with others I find myself forming a connection that is far different than any other type. It comes naturally. You’re sharing a space that requires a connection whether you are working on the same meal or a different one, and the outcome is to create something that everyone participates in. Eating. Together in the kitchen we are creating the gift of food, and here at Veggielution, we are creating the gift of good, healthy food. This program allows us to dig deep into our surrounding communities to bring culturally relevant foods and dishes to the center of our community and to the center of our lunch table here at the farm on Saturdays.

Be on the lookout for more information on Veggielution Cooks in the next few weeks. If you have any questions or are interested in further supporting this program please email me at emilys@veggielution.org

Youth Garden

Jennifer Aguilar - Youth Garden Educator

Students from San Jose City College buzzed over to the Youth Garden to deliver their donation and pollinator lesson plans.

Students from San Jose City College buzzed over to the Youth Garden to deliver their donation and pollinator lesson plans.

The Youth Garden has been bustling with activity, even with the recent rain showers. A wet morning in the garden is perfect for making mud pies, discovering new plants that are sprouting, pulling weeds, and finding bugs, such as wiggly worms. Families have also helped us plant new vegetables in our raised beds.

Visitors will be able to find a variety of different colored carrots, as well as beets, radishes, turnips, red lettuce, tatsoi, cilantro, and chives.

Our raised beds play an important role in the garden. On a recent group visit, we had the pleasure of harvesting some of our beets. The children, assisted by their parents, washed and sliced the beets to prepare them for cooking. The participants then had an opportunity to make their own “Beet Burger”, and to taste a beet for the first time. Experiences like these help connect both youth and adults to the food system. When we see a beet nestled into the soft soil and use our hands to pull it from the ground, we are getting to know the vegetable. It’s color, texture, and smells are now familiar, which helps make tasting less intimidating.

In an effort to better care for the crops we grow in our raised beds, our very own farm hand, Ryan, is in the process of building protective structures. If you’ve visited the garden in the last month, you may have seen one of these structures installed on our beets and carrots bed. These are a wonderful addition to the garden, and will protect our vegetables from the feral peacocks and roosters that roam the farm.

Although visitors may notice that some of the raised beds have not been planted with edible crops, these beds are instead growing cover crop. Soil health is important not only for the farm fields, but also to the garden. This cover crop will help restore nutrients to our garden beds, while attracting beneficial insects with its blooms.

Community Farmer

Dana Shinners - Community Engagement Coordinator

What does it mean to be a ‘Community Farmer?’ Well, it’s different for everyone. This fall, we selected Eric as the official Farmer of the Fall! Eric has been working with the farm crew since last summer, and he was a huge asset on Friday harvest days during the CSA season. He shared why he loves Veggielution in his Farmcast interview: “I love being outside, I love being in the sun and doing work that’s good for me.” Maybe our Community Farmers aren’t so different after all, we all love soaking in the sun, digging in the dirt, sharing conversation, and of course, spending time on the farm!

Farm Days: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 8:30AM-12:30PM

Community Day: Saturday 10:00AM-1:30PM. 

Register here

How's it Growing?

Colleen Hotchkiss - Farm Manager

After 2 weeks away from the farm for the holidays, the Veggielution crew is back at work rested, rejuvenated, and excited for the year ahead. Late December and early January is about the only time of year when we are able to close the farm, since the short days and colder temperatures slow plant growth almost to a halt. Any other time of year, we would return from a 2 week vacation to find Veggielution entirely engulfed in a jungle of weeds, and overgrown, unharvested vegetables gone to waste. Although the cycles of farming don't adhere perfectly to the calendar year, the timing of the winter holidays is about as close as we get to a natural breaking point in the rhythm of work on the farm.

In December we wrapped up the last of our planting for the year and prepared the farm for El Niño, and in January we'll be ordering seeds, planning the 2016 Workday Leader class, and strategizing for the summer season ahead. While the majority of the farm is resting under its green blanket of cover crop and drinking in the rain, hot summer weather and long harvest days seem very far off. But in fact, this month we'll be seeding our first round of tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers in the greenhouse so they'll be ready to plant out in April. Farming really is a continuous cycle!

Our first week back on the farm was a wet one, and we are expecting more heavy rains throughout January, which disrupts the rhythm of our typical workdays and drives the farm crew inside to focus on office work. I became a farmer in the first year of the California drought, so I am totally unfamiliar with what a wet winter looks like and how it affects the various aspects of the farm, and this year's El Niño is going to bring much more rain than a normal San Jose winter. This means that as we continue to grow our winter and spring crops and plan for the summer, we have to build in a degree of flexibility and know that things may not go according to plan. It also means that as rainy weather inhibits our ability to do field work, we can take it as an opportunity to fine tune our crop plan, stay organized, and strategize about the long-term health and vitality of the farm operation and Veggielution as a whole.

Here's to a happy, healthy, and deeply-rooted 2016!

Knight Cities Challenge

Veggielution named a finalist in the Knight Cities Challenge!

“What’s your best idea to make cities more successful?”

The 2016 Knight Cities Challenge asks this simple and elegant question, to which any one of us might pose a very different answer. Here at Veggielution, we tend to believe that the best ideas always involve food. Food to nourish, to teach, to connect, and to celebrate. And East San Jose, where Veggielution calls home, is steeped in rich culinary traditions and discoveries.  ¡Qué maravilla!! Which is why our best idea to make San Jose more successful is a local food hub for economic development, cross-cultural exchange, and shared learning opportunities right here at Emma Prusch Farm Park.  We are thrilled to have been selected as a Knight Cities Challenges finalist!  Please keep your fingers crossed with us until winners are announced in early spring. Or, better yet, reach out to me at cayceh@veggielution.org if you would like to learn more about how you can support our application. Find out more about the Knight Cities Challenge here:  http://knightcities.org

Submitted by Cayce Hill, Executive Director

Upcoming Events

January 16th, 12:30pm to 1:30pm, Community Potluck: Breakfast for Lunch

Veggielution's Community Potluck this Saturday, January 16 is going to be delicious. 

There will be a full house of hungry farmers ready to eat at 12:30pm after the farm workday. Even if you're not registered to work on the farm this Saturday, please join us for lunch!

Share your favorite breakfast recipes with the community, enjoy a scenic farm picnic, and make new friends! Extra points if you integrate vegetables into your morning meal! Remember, if we all bring one small thing, we'll have a feast!

February 4th, 6pm to 8pm, Rainy Day Food Film Series: Growing Cities

Rainy Day Food Film Series

From rooftop farmers to backyard beekeepers, Americans are growing food like never before. Showing that urban agriculture is harvesting a whole lot more than simply good food, the film Growing Cities tells the story of the intrepid urban farmers who are challenging the way we grow and distribute our food. A discussion with urban farmers in San Jose will follow the screening. Co-presented by Veggielution, Awesome Foundation, Slow Food South Bay and Transition Silicon Valley/Palo Alto.

Get your tickets here: http://www.spur.org/events/2016-02-04/growing-cities

February 10th, 7pm to 10pm

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!

These dances will be happening on the 2nd Wednesday of every month. 

Location: Multicultural Center - The big red building at the main park entrance. 

Entry: $12 at the door, kids 5 and under are free
(discounts available for Veggielution staff, interns, and workday leaders)

Hosted by the Prusch Farm Park Foundation

Workday Leader Class


The Workday Leader class is held on six consecutive Saturdays from 11:00am to 3:00pm. The class has two components, a hand’s on training before lunch, and a lecture segment afterwards. Upon completion of this course, you will be able to manage a variety of farm tasks and be a conscious facilitator in our diverse community. Course includes: volunteer management, a study of the different sectors of agriculture, and the farming practices we use at Veggielution such as soil health, integrated pest management, tillage, weed management, composting, worm composting, and harvesting.

This year we are offering focuses for workday leaders to get trained to do such as Youth Garden, Pilot Juvenile Hall Garden Project, Kitchen Leader, Farm Expert, and Farmer 4 a Day.

Get your name on the list for the Workday Leader Class of 2016. Click HERE to receive more information on becoming a Workday Leader in 2016. 

Farmer 4 a Day


Our Farmer 4 a Day program can be explained as an awesome, adult-field trip for groups and corporate professionals to support Veggielution, and learn what it takes to work as a farmer. This fall, we showed Cisco and Fairmont San Jose a good time on the farm. Both groups worked in several stations around the farm seeding native plants in the greenhouse, sorting potatoes, and learning in the Youth Garden. Cisco employees even participated in a pickling workshop, and each took a jar of pickled green tomatoes home!

To sign your team up for Farmer 4 a Day, email farmer4aday@veggielution.org