How do David White (Farmer Dave) and Katy Overstreet (Farmer Katy) have fun on Wednesday mornings? This is not a trick question. If you know anything about the Ojai Center for Regenerative Agriculture (CRA) you know it is educating children at Rio Gozo Organic Farm in Ojai.
The CRA was formed as a California Nonprofit Corporation in 2002 by David White and Steve Sprinkel (Owner – Rio Gozo Organic Farm). The CRA mission statement reads in part: “Our mission is to promote all aspects of organic farming which build soils, limit synthetic pesticide release and curtail pollution and degradation of arable lands. We use model projects to educate students, homeowners, ranchers and farmers about sustainable food growing strategies…”
Educating students is, perhaps, what they do best. During this school year alone, over 650 students attended the “Students on the Farm” program. On the Wednesday morning I attended, 25 children, a few parents and Kindergarten teacher Angie Genasci from Topa Topa Elementary School were treated to an hour-long program. The program was not only educational but interactive and highly entertaining.
One of the highlights of the program was when Farmer John (John Fonteyn) drove a tractor onto the farm. When he hopped off the tractor, one of the children ran up to him and gave him a big hug. David asked the children what Farmer John was driving. One of the children raised his hand and replied not with “a tractor” but with “a John Deer”. The rest of the children clapped and cheered. You could feel the love and respect they have for John and the Rio Gozo Farm.
Another highlight was getting to sample fresh organic produce. While David talked about the type of crops that grow on the farm, Katy picked carrots, dill weed, cilantro, chard and beets from the field. She and David passed them out for eating to delight of everyone including me.
When not volunteering his time as the Executive Director of the Center for Regenerative Agriculture, David is the garden coordinator for Food for Thought Ojai and the environmental coordinator and life skills teacher at Ojai Valley School, lower campus. Katy can be seen locally helping out at The Farmer & The Cook restaurant in Meiners Oaks and at the Ojai Certified Farmers Market.
The Center for Regenerative Agriculture collaborates with Food for Thought Ojai – the Ojai Healthy Schools Program. For more information visit about the CRA visit their website at http://www.ojaicra.org. If your child’s class would like to arrange a field trip to the farm contact David White at [email protected].
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