by Ashlie Feffer
Full Circle Farm, a community-operated farm in Santa Clara County, is this year’s recipient of  Project Inspire (an annual holiday event where NVIDIA employees, their family and friends participate in volunteer service).  Previously, we heard about the farm’s mission to transform how we think about food, health and nutrition and how NVIDIA will  help support the farm’s work. Today, education manager Ashlie Feffer tells us about the farm’s outreach to community members and the importance of teaching kids where their food comes from.
Peterson middle-schoolers participate in the
“seed to table” experience by growing and caring
for vegetables at neighboring Full Circle Farm.

As the Education and Outreach Manager at Full Circle Farm, I create and run all the educational programs and events at the farm. We host field trips – ranging from preschool to college students – during which we tour the bee farm, the orchard, our educational garden, the greenhouse, our chicken coop and more.

We also host ongoing classes for kids at Peterson Middle School in Santa Clara, Calif. and have partnered with Stanford University to host youth for week-long summer camps. The kids learn about food webs, seasonal foods, how to transplant plants into their garden plots and how much energy and money it takes for produce to travel to their table.  And to reach members of the public, we offer after-school clubs, programs for organizations like Kaiser Permanente and workshops that focus on sustainable agriculture, nutrition and food systems.

During the Farm’s Summer Science Camp, kids
constructed solar ovens, explored plant parts under
a microscope, ate farm fresh snacks, and played
with the chickens.

At Full Circle, we believe it’s important for everyone to know how and where their food is grown. With this knowledge, people can make educated decisions about their food choices. It’s not only about what they are putting into their bodies – it’s also about how their consumer choices affect the food system. Even small scale choices can lead to change. When students are able to grow vegetables, prepare them and experience eating them, it changes how they view food.

This seed-to-table experience is really important, and is the motivation behind the new outdoor teaching kitchen we’re creating as part of Project Inspire. The  kitchen will allow us to teach people how to prepare the vegetables they grow, completing the seed-to-table circle.

The kitchen is also an important community space where people can gather and socialize, which helps grow a culture around food and supports positive eating habits.  Our goal is for the kitchen  to be a place where people can experience fresh, healthy food that they can replicate in their own home.