East Palo Alto Charter School 1/9

What would the organization ideally like conveyed to the Castilleja Community about their work?

Making a Salad

“So, if I’m cooking, I’ll be steaming vegetables, making some nice salad, that kind of stuff,” Sir Paul McCartney. As Paul McCartney said, salad is a crucial part of your daily nutrition, and can help people in low income communities get the nutrition they need without the high price tag of organic foods. EPACS, which stands for East Palo Alto Charter School, is partnered with Collective Roots, an organization that helps bring organic gardens and goods to low income areas. Learning how to make a salad can change your life. Learning how to make something can stick with you for your entire life and make you an independent self sufficient person. At EPACS, we learned how to make a healthy salad without any help. At Castilleja, we have a garden in which we can harvest food to cook in our daily lunches. We can use our new knowledge that we have obtained from EPACS to influence others to also harvest their own food. Fresh produce is very important and can help prevent health problems that can happen from pesticides. Collective Roots works with youth, children, and adults to help create and maintain a garden on school properties and in communities. We are deeply inspired by their mission to educate and engage communities and youth in food system change through long lasting programs that can impact education, the environment, and health. The goal of our trip to EPACS was to bring volunteers from the Castilleja community to the organization to help out whenever they can. The skills that we learned from gardening and salad making will forever help us throughout our lives.

What are one or two things you learned at your trip:

When we went to EPACS, we made a salad and learned about the health benefits of the ingredients in the salad.  For example, the cabbage in the salad and has vitamin C that boosts your immune system and the carrots help your eyesight.  The salad dressing has lemon juice and zest, which had more vitamin C, and olive oil, which has good fat.  We also learned about how to plant rosemary: by cutting off a 2-inch piece of the plant, dipping it in something to make the roots grow, and planting it in a pot with dirt.  This way, the rosemary plant will grow quicker than it would if it was planted from a seed.  We also learned that less than 3% of the world has arable land.  To prevent unnecessary weeds from growing on the pathways throughout the garden, we put down cardboard over the paths. Then we used mulch otherwise known as wood chips and covered the cardboard in thick layers to complete the paths.  In East Palo, there is only one grocery store, so this organization wants to make organic produce more accessible to this community through farmers markets and community gardens, and by teaching people about the benefits of a healthy diet and how to start a garden in their own backyard.

What are the ways we can partner with this organization? What are the future goals of the organization?



 Nestled by the bay, is East Palo Alto Charter School where a garden impacting our community lies. They grow fruits, flowers, and other plants, which all the volunteers are able to identify and educate the neighborhood about. Education plays a large role in the garden. Not only is the garden a nice place to spend time, it is also a learning environment. One of the main goals EPACS has is to teach people about nutrition and encourage healthy eating in the towns of both East Palo Alto and East Menlo Park. They provide gardening and cooking classes that make healthy eating more accessible and affordable. Not only is this important to individual families, it also opens up opportunities to connect with others. For example, different families can trade the vegetables and fruits they grow. A tight knit community is an essential aspect of a pleasing life EPACS is also encouraging. While experiencing the natural surroundings of the garden, we made a bulgur salad, which was delicious. By coming to the garden to help every third Saturday of the month from 9 AM-12 PM, we can create more efficiency in the garden and learn more about what we are eating. By getting involved and helping the garden, we are helping EPACS reach their goal of affordable and accessible food and are supporting a community built around positive values and partnership.

What did you do today? How did your work support the organization?

Planting Rosemary

Our day at EPACS started with a brief introduction including a name game from the 3 staff that were on site and another game to ‘warm up’ our cold bodies. Once we were instructed with 4 guiding questions about the garden, we were told to walk around to answer them in silence. Afterwards, our group was split into two! The group we participated in started off with a cooking exercise. We chopped and grated many fresh veggies from the garden and made a delicious salad. We then switched with the other group and began to sheet mulch. We were told that sheet mulching is used in gardens to keep weeds from growing up to the surface. Then both groups came back together to harvest all of the wonderful citrus from their citrus trees. We proceeded to help construct rosemary starts for their upcoming fundraisers and events. Later we conversed about the amount of land sustainable for agriculture around the world. One of our major impacts on this community had to do with their services. All that we did was very helpful to them because they are very short on staff and volunteers, and our number of hands helped greatly. In a greater sense, our support helped this organization to broaden the minds of East Palo Alto communities who aren’t familiar or don’t have access to healthy food choices.

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