OC Master Gardener Jeremy Samson to Discuss Community and School Gardens at Grow Local OC Conference

Jeremy Samson, co-director of Cultivate Together and Slow Food Orange County Garden chair, will be speaking at the upcoming Grow Local OC Conference on Nov. 10-11 at Cal State University, Fullerton.

Jeremy Samson, co-director of Cultivate Together and Slow Food Orange County Garden chair, will be speaking at the upcoming Grow Local OC Conference on Nov. 10-11 at Cal State University, Fullerton.

The Grow Local OC Conference: The Future of Urban Food Systems slated for Nov. 10 – 11 at Cal State University, Fullerton is excited to announce that Jeremy Samson, co-director of Cultivate Together and Slow Food Orange County Garden chair, will speak to conference attendees on the community development benefits of school gardens in Orange County.

Jeremy is an urban farmer, who works with several different organizations to improve the food system in Orange County with gardens. He is co-director of Cultivate Together, a non-profit focused on facilitating the creation and sustainability of neighborhood farms and community garden spaces. As an Orange County Master Gardener he is a member of the Speakers Bureau that teaches gardening classes around the county. After attending the Edible School Yard Academy in Berkeley last year, he now serves on the School Garden Team for the Master Gardeners and as the Slow Food Orange County Garden chair.

Gardening is one of Slow Food Orange County’s primary focus areas. When Jeremy moved to Anaheim a few years ago, he was surprised by the city’s dearth of public gardens.

“In 2012 there were no community gardens in Anaheim,” says Samson, who grew up in Maine and is well-versed in Slow Food culture.

He moved to Anaheim after serving in the U.S. Navy, quickly joined the Master Gardeners of Orange County, and became involved in gardening and sustainability endeavors. Soon after joining Slow Food Orange County, he became chair of its School and Community Gardens program.

“Slow Food Orange County put out a call for new board members,” he says. “It relies on the skill sets of volunteers, and my skill set is school garden programs.”

Samson has put his talents to good use, as Slow Food Orange County has played a key role in numerous garden endeavors. These include the installation of a new drip irrigation system in a church garden, giving an heirloom seed grant and cooking demonstration to Tustin Memorial Academy students, providing volunteers to the Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center, and collaborating with The Ecology Center’s Grow Your Own! program to bolster the efforts of teachers developing school gardens.

Jeremy also owns a small landscape design and consultation business specializing in edible and drought tolerant landscaping with an emphasis on resource conservation and wildlife habitat.

Register now to hear Jeremy speak about the local food systems benefits that accrue as a result of the development of community and school gardens:  http://growlocaloc.eventbrite.com

OC-based Specialty Produce Co. Fights Food Waste, Helps Community

Students and officials from Oak Middle School in Los Alamitos, California enjoy a new salad bar, thanks in part to Frieda’s Specialty Produce. (photo courtesy of Oakley Boren/Frieda’s Specialty Produce)

Students and officials from Oak Middle School in Los Alamitos, California enjoy a new salad bar, thanks in part to Frieda’s Specialty Produce. (photo courtesy of Oakley Boren/Frieda’s Specialty Produce)

Though involved to a greater extent in the sourcing and national distribution of exotic produce, Los Alamitos-based Frieda’s Specialty Produce has deep roots in Orange County and a commitment to helping the local community eat healthy, fresh food.

Founded in downtown Los Angeles in 1962 by Frieda Caplan, the company moved to its present location in Los Alamitos in 1994 and has been operating from there ever since.

Frieda’s deals with exotic specialty fruits grown around the world. The trend toward exotic fruits and vegetables began when Frieda imported the first kiwifruit to the United States in 1962.

“We imported the first spaghetti squash, shallots, pine nuts, and purple potatoes,” says Karen Caplan, Frieda’s daughter and CEO of the company. “This changed the landscape of American diets.” Read more

Tustin Unified Incorporates Program to Feed Fresh, Healthy California Food to Orange County Kids

Tustin Unified School District Nutrition Services Director Jim Kamuran rolls out the food for Tustin Unified’s first "California Thursday" meal. Photo courtesy of Kim Pham, Chefs’ Toys Restaurant Equipment and Supply Store

Tustin Unified School District Nutrition Services Manager Jim Kamuran rolls out the food for Tustin Unified’s first “California Thursday” meal. Photo courtesy of Kim Pham, Chefs’ Toys Restaurant Equipment and Supply Store

On March 17, Tustin Unified School District Nutrition Services kitchens kicked off its participation in the “California Thursdays” program, a collaboration between the Center for Ecoliteracy and participating school districts to serve healthy, freshly prepared school meals featuring California-grown foods. The program, which was first developed and piloted in the Oakland Unified School District during the 2013-2014 school year, asks participating districts to commit to serving one meal a week of fresh, California-grown food.

Tustin Unified School District is the first school district in Orange County to participate in the “California Thursdays” program, which now includes 58 school districts across the state that serve over 283 million meals a year to 1.75 million students. Seedstock recently spoke with Jim Kamuran, Manager of Nutrition Services for Tustin Unified School District, to find out how the district got involved with the program, the results thus far and what the future looks like for local food in Tustin’s schools.

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