How We Help Children Learn, Grow and Find Joy on the Farm

Child holding avocado slice near face
It’s clear that we need to design more unique and meaningful opportunities for engaging the youth in our community.

A farm is more than just a place to grow food. It’s a gathering place for people to connect, learn, and participate in the joyful work of building community through stewarding nature. That’s been our vision at The Ecology Center since the beginning, and we’ve seen it come to life most powerfully through the children who come here for field trips, education programs, and family celebrations.

Children gathered together gardening.

After witnessing how one child’s experience at the farm can open the door to transformation for an entire family, we set our minds to design more unique and meaningful opportunities for engaging the youth in our community. One of our most profound opportunities came through our food assistance program, Nourishing Neighbors. After seeing the powerful response to this effort, we decided to design a program specifically for the children of these families. The result is Feast Verde, a “seed-to-table” serial workshop that guides students through each stage in the life cycle of a crop. Over four visits to our farm, students join in the immersive work of caring for the food that will nourish them, from seedling to soil to final harvest. The final visit ends with the students preparing a feast to share with their families and, on occasion, members of the San Juan Capistrano Senior Center. Seeing the pride in the children’s faces as they set the table, serve their handmade dishes, and share their new skills and knowledge with their families and elders, is a deeply moving demonstration of what our Village is all about.

Children creating natural plant dyes.

The impact of Feast Verde has already been profound. Along with inspiring a love of nature in the students, we’ve seen how it develops a sense of empowerment around their own health and an awareness of ecology’s importance to our health as a species. In return, we have benefited from the cultural diversity and intergenerational perspective that these families bring to our Village. We want everyone in our community to know that this is their farm—a place to find nourishment, support, and a sense of purpose for stewarding the planet that we share. 

In the coming year, we plan to host 12 Feast Verde sessions throughout the year (one per month) in order to better serve our community’s children and deepen our relationship with their families. Join us in inspiring healthy change in the next generation of agricultural and community leaders—make a donation to Feast Verde.

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