Growing | Understanding
The limited-run Weekly Harvest is a direct education component of our Eastside HEAL Zone (Healthy Eating Active Living) food access program. For HEAL Zone Phase I we conducted food workshops to accompany a low-cost weekly subscription bag of fruits and vegetables. We held three 10-week sessions between September 2015 and March 2016 at two locations, the Seventh Day Adventist-Spanish church and Bordwell Park’s Stratton Center. Our workshop topics ranged from cooking tips to home gardening.
New trends indicate fresh whole fruit and vegetable sales are dropping, particularly for modest wage earners. Modern life pressures us toward convenience foods, even as we profess to value good nutrition. Studies show how time, knowledge of ingredients, knowledge of cooking, and food waste are issues actually equal to limited budgets when making shopping decisions. With our workshop partners from Riverside University Health System, Master Gardeners, Master Preservers, etc., we try to present eating local produce as easy and fun as well as healthy.
Our relationship with the Kaiser Permanente funded HEAL Zone began with its kick-off event in July 2013 at Patterson Park. We gave away strawberries from a nearby farm. Since then we’ve attended community forums, events, health fairs and graduations to promote our contribution to the HEAL Zone vision: responsibly grown local produce. Our hope is to be a gathering place for quality fresh food, to instill in our neighbors a sense of familia for regional growers with their vital role in the community. “Fresh and local from your farms!” is always the first thing you hear from us.
How it works.
For Phase II beginning May 2016 we kept our workshops but instead of a closed subscription service we set up the Al Centro produce stand. We introduce indirect food education at the stand. We still offer the more formal workshops, after which attendees receive a generous discount voucher for use at the produce stand. The choice relieves them of the obligation to attend a workshop every week, and to prepay for the following week. Those opting out of a workshop and discount voucher can still shop at the stand.