September 15th Group Harvest

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Sunday, September 15th was a day of cooperation. The Harvest Club and S. Groner Associates Inc. teamed up in the city of Orange to harvest oranges from a local couple’s backyard. When the volunteers arrived, the four orange trees were covered in plump, bright Valencia oranges.

When the group of volunteers was done harvesting, sixteen boxes of oranges had been filled!

Fotor0923103046 A total of 750 pounds of Valencia oranges were gathered and taken to  Second Harvest Food Bank. The fruit gathered that day will provide a nutritious food option to over 2,000  Orange County residents!

This is just one of the many harvests that have been taking place this year. Volunteering with The Harvest Club allows homeowners, business owners and local do-gooders to make an impact in their community.

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                      Photos Courtesy of Philip Kao.

Food & Creativity Are Coming to SOCO

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The Patchwork Show, a modern handmade festival, is coming to Costa Mesa! Southern California’s Creative Food Summit will be at the SOCO shopping center the 5th & 6th of October! The summit will host an array of creative organizations which will present the edible world in a new way for Orange County residents. Participants in the summit range from OC Weekly to Whole Foods to Slow Food .The event will have various hands-on workshops which will cover crafting and food making. Workshops will include everything from a crash test in cocktail making to watercolor painting! There will also be cooking demos which will have all your mouths watering! If you are looking to learn something new and taste all the goods the OC area has to offer bring your hungry mouths and free hands to SOCO in two weeks. The Harvest Club will have a booth at the event on both dates, so please stop by and say Hi!

 

For more information about the event check out their website!

What Foods to Plant in Your Fall Garden

Photo Courtesy of Mother Earth News

It’s that time of the year again where the leaves change color and the weather gets a bit cooler. With these changes in the environment also come changes in what is planted. When one thinks of Fall plants, one may picture bright squashes, plump pumpkins or golden corn. Though these are edible delights associated with Thanksgiving and Halloween, it would surprise you that goods such as butternut squash are actually planted during the summer months.

                                            

Some of the delectable green plants more suitable for Fall planting include broccoli, cabbage, spinach and Brussels sprouts. These items will bring a nice earthy tone to your garden and provide you with a nice addition to a meal of steamed vegetables or meaty dish. The more colorful options for Fall Planting include radishes, beets, carrots, turnips, and even cheddar cauliflower, which has a cheesy pigment to it. These warm colored vegetables can accompany your Fall meals as a substitute for canned beets or frozen carrots you might otherwise use.

For more information on Fall planting go to P. Allen Smith Garden Home or Mother Nature Network.

Volunteer Appreciation BBQ 2013!

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Thank you to everyone who attended our 1st Annual Volunteer Appreciation BBQ! If you weren’t able to attend, we hope you can make it next year because we had a blast!!! The BBQ was held in the beautiful garden oasis of Fran & Jeff Lebow. Our other wonderful hosts were Blue and Roxy Lebow. (there is a picture of Blue just enjoying the company)

Amazing food was brought by the guests to share with one another, while OCFAC provided the main dish. The BBQ’d portobello mushrooms were a hit. Growers, harvesters and harvest captains got to mingle and chat. It was wonderful being able to put faces to names. Photos from the event are on Facebook!

Check out the list of this year’s award recipients:
John Baird
Kathie Burns
Lee KeslerWest
Richard KeslerWest
Mary LeBouef
Jeff Lebow
Jacky Lex
Hilde Lu
Sue, Mark & Zora McPhail
Matias Navarro
Ron Newman
Jane Rands
Jon Steinberg
Beverly White

Thanks again to all our volunteers for making The Harvest Club such a success!

CA Dept of Food and Agriculture Issues Quarantine Alert

A quarantine has been issued for a 130 sq. mile area of Orange and Los Angeles Counties due to an infestation of the oriental fruit fly. Affected communities include Anaheim, Buena Park, Stanton, Garden Grove, Cypress, Cerritos and Artesia. Do not move any fruits or vegetables into or out of this quarantine zone until this quarantine has been lifted (which could be months). Here is the CDFA map of the quarantine zone. The Harvest Club will continue to monitor this situation and issue updates as needed.

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Spring is here, time to start planting!

These days, getting exactly what you want to eat and drink is as simple as getting in your car and traveling to the nearest grocery store, which is almost undoubtedly stocked full of thousands of different varieties of fruits, vegetables, meats, processed foods, and drinks, among others. While supermarkets have dramatically increased the variety of foods available and the times of year they are stocked, our relationship to food and the concept of growing one’s own produce has dwindled as a result. As food prices continue to rise and major corporations come closer and closer to relieving themselves of the requirement to label genetically modified foods, growing your own fruits and veggies might arguably represent the best decision a modern and health-conscious consumer can make. In addition to providing a way to free yourself from the unnecessary and burdensome binds of big agriculture, you will also gain an invaluable understanding of and connection to the natural, biologically symbiotic relationship of plants and the earth. So, with the start of Spring this year, we thought we’d provide you with some helpful tips for gardening in Southern California. And what a better time to start planting than May!

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  1. Plant Herbs: It’s no secret that using fresh herbs when cooking makes everything taste up to 1,000,000 times better. Plant your favorites, like basil, cilantro, dill, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage and tarragon and harvest the leaves for cooking as needed. Pinch back any signs of flowers to increase the plant’s longevity.
  2. Aphids be gone! (naturally): Aphids are tiny bugs, usually green or black, that attach themselves to new plant growth and feed on plant sap. Unfortunately, an abundance of aphids doesn’t usually bode well for plants, and need to be controlled to maximize plant growth. You can remove aphids naturally by focusing a strong spray of water on the aphids several times a day for a week. This way, the aphids will be unable to reattach themselves to the plant, and the plant won’t have to endure any harsh chemicals found in pesticides. If water doesn’t suffice, try spraying a mixture of 1 cup veggie oil, 1 1/2 cups water and 2 teaspoons of dish soap onto the plant. Wait several hours and then wash the soap off of the plant. Then, put some ladybugs in the garden. They love to eat aphids!
  3. Include Annuals: Spring and summer are great times to plant flowers that only grow seasonally. Some examples include begonia, chrysanthemum, geranium marigolds, zinnia, petunias, impatiens and sunflowers. If you’re planning to buy these plants from the nursery, select smaller sized plants with healthy green foliage, because bigger plants will take longer to assimilate to the garden and will not be as prolific.
  4. Be conscious of your water consumption:  Warmer weather usually leads people to water their gardens excessively. Soil should be moist four to six inches below the surface of the garden, and you can check this by making a small hole in the soil and sticking your finger in the dirt to check for moisture content. If your garden has grass, step on it. If it flattens, your garden needs water. The best time to water your plants is in the early morning so that less water evaporates. Water less often, but for longer periods. Deep watering allows roots to grow downward so that they will be protected during hotter days.
  5. Thinner is better: Fruit trees should be in full bloom during May. My boyfriend’s avocado tree, for example, has already produced thousands of beautiful, delicious avocados that can grow to be the size of a small papaya! As is true with this avocado tree, fruit trees typically produce more fruit than can grow to maturity, leading some of the immature fruit to fall of naturally. Thin the remaining smaller, unhealthy- looking fruit from the branches. This will help the stronger fruits to thrive.
  6. Veggie time: Plant your veggies now to enjoy during the hot summer months. Some great choices for this region are artichokes, beets, cucumber, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, beans, corn, melons, and squash.
  7. Perennial galore: Fill out your flower garden with perennials that bloom in summer. Be sure to include asters, coreopsis, clematis, coneflowers, daylilies, ice plant, speedwell, Shasta daisies, salvia and stokes aster.

 

We hope this helps you in your planting pursuits this Spring! We would love to see what’s in your garden, so post some pics on our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OCFoodAccess?ref=hl! We’re looking forward to seeing some great produce, flowers, and full- on gardens! Happy planting, everyone!

 

Information about gardening taken from: www.agromin.com

People are hungry in Orange County?! Here’s what you can do.

Orange County, California is often thought of as a place of great natural beauty and affluence, with agricultural roots that have, over time, transformed largely (though not completely) into a suburban metropolis complete with a booming population and increasing business, public, and private sectors. Popular television shows such as “The OC” and “Laguna Beach” have branded the region with a feel of social and economic exclusiveness, and with reason. Orange County ranks among the top 10 most expensive places to live in the United States, with housing costs nearly three times that of the national average. For example, in Newport Beach, median homes rank around $1 million dollars, and even a trip to the salon will cost you twice what it would almost anywhere else.

images     In a region of such monetary precedence, any issues related to hunger would seemingly prove irrelevant. Surely, a place teeming with showy sports cars, elegant mansions, and first- class dining wouldn’t be affected by its resident’s inability to adequately access or purchase nutritious foods on a regular basis, right? Unfortunately, and contrary to popular assumption, food insecurity in Orange County is a real problem. According to Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County, about 21% of the county’s residents are unable to successfully purchase meals or groceries on a regular basis and many are affected by food- related illnesses such as obesity or hypertension as a result, given that low food costs directly coincide with high- calorie foods.

Even with this baseline information understood, much is unknown about the realities facing either Orange County or our nation with regards to food insecurity. So, what’s being done about this? Feeding America, the nation’s largest charity organization focused in hunger relief efforts, is conducting a study throughout Orange County and the rest of the country in cooperation with its subsidiary food banks, called the Hunger In America 2014 Study. The purpose of the study is to conduct research on charitable food assistance services for people in need, with the ultimate intention of raising awareness about hunger related issues and gaining more support and resources for food banks and their corresponding non- profits across the country. The data collected from these surveys will be compiled and published, and will be used to lobby for increased federal, state, and private support. Additionally, this study will be used to advertise the facts and statistics about hunger and food insecurity in the United States, and will help Feeding America and its network of food banks (including Orange County’s own, Second Harvest Food Bank) better understand the agencies they work with to provide hunger relief and the clients that receive their services.

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For those of you who are unfamiliar with food banks and terms related to food banks, here are a couple of useful definitions.

  • Food Bank: a food bank is a non- profit organization that accepts donations in the form of food from major grocery retailers and works with non- profits that are involved with hunger- relief efforts to provide food and groceries at a highly subsidized rate to support their programs.
  • Agency: An agency of a food bank is a non- profit that is registered as a 501(c)3, such as a church that runs a soup kitchen or a shelter program, that gets a portion or all of the food it distributes to those in need through its corresponding food bank. 
  • Program: Agencies run and operate different programs, both food and non- food related, for their clients. Examples of programs include: soup kitchens, shelter programs, and grocery programs.
  • Clients: Clients represent the families and individuals who receive services from agencies.

The Hunger In America 2014 Study sixth in the series of Hunger Studies, with each study surpassing the previous ones in scope and impact. The first Hunger Study, conducted in 1993, included more than 3,000 agencies and almost 9,000 client interviews. By 2010, the number of Agency Survey responses increased more than ten- fold, to 37,000 agencies and the number of client interviews (61,000) was more than seven times that of the 1993 study. Over 47,500 agencies were invited to participate in the Agency Survey portion of the HIA 2014 Study, and it is anticipated that over 70,000 surveys will be completed at the client level.

The Hunger Studies are two fold: there is an Agency- level survey and a Client- level survey. The first portion of the HIA 2014 is the Agency survey, which was conducted from October 2012 through January 2013. The Agency survey was a web- based survey that collected information on the agencies in the Feeding America network, including data related to the types of programs the non- profit ran, its relation to nutrition, the resources needed to further expand or improve their services, etc. The Client survey is the second part of HIA 2014, and it will be administered directly to clients at food distribution sites of selected non- profits. This portion of the study will be used to understand the different issues clients face and their coping strategies for dealing with these problems. Information gathered in the Client survey will include issues related to individuals being able to access enough food, general knowledge about nutrition, relative incomes compared to family size, and demographic information, among other components.

This section of the survey involves systematically selecting a group of people at various programs to participate in the study, and leading through the Client Survey process, which is also completely automated. The Client survey is set to begin on April 15, and will involve food bank employees and a team of dedicated volunteers who will be traveling to selected program sites throughout Orange County to administer the survey to individuals affected by food insecurity in this region. Sounds pretty cool, right?

Well, if you’re interested in getting involved in something like this, you’re in luck! Second Harvest is currently recruiting volunteers who will be able to help travel to sites throughout the county and give surveys to selected individuals from April to August 2013. For more information, please contact Hunger Study Coordinator, Hannah Evans, at hannah@feedoc.org, or by phone at: (949)-653-2900 ext 154.

To recap, the purpose of the studies are to conduct research on charitable food assistance services for people in need. The information collected helps Feeding America, and its network of food banks, to better understand the agencies they work with to provide hunger relief and the clients they serve. Feeding America uses the information collected from the Hunger Studies to educate donors and the public about the scope of the services provided by the food banks. The data from these studies can also be used to advocate for government assistance, which of course has the potential to help combat hunger in the future.

So, while it’s daunting to think that there’s such an issue with food insecurity in Orange County, it’s comforting to know that the problem is recognized and that attempts to alleviate the situation are in place. Most importantly, it’s important to note that the work being done is available to anyone, regardless of their background or experience, who’s interested in making our county, our state, and our country a better, more secure, and more effectively developed place.

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