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Fruitful Harvest

Waylon, a retired draft horse, wasn’t in the spotlight. Neither was Frank, an old thoroughbred. But Bessie the cow was. For a brief shining moment, Bessie was the star at the recent Country Hoe-Down at the Orange County Fairgrounds.

Without Bessie, they never would have finished the cow-chip bingo game.

Many of the 700 guests who paid $20 to buy an 18-inch square on a massive bingo board watched expectantly as Bessie wandered about and selected the winning numbers.

“It didn’t take her very long,” said Bev Langston, who with Donna Blue chaired the country dinner-dance. Langston is vice president of the nonprofit Centennial Farm Foundation, which sponsored the fund-raiser.

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Proceeds of more than $100,000 will support the three-acre Centennial Farm and other agriculturally and youth-related educational programs and exhibits at the Orange County Fairgrounds.

The Centennial Farm is a 6-year-old micro farm with everything but a big barn--the next item on the foundation’s wish list. More than 400 schoolchildren visit the farm each day, and thousands see it daily during the Orange County Fair (July 12 through 28 this year).

Volunteers grow a variety of food and fiber crops and raise all the traditional farm animals, with two burros thrown in for good measure. The mother burro was rescued from Nevada by the Bureau of Land Management before she gave birth.

Near the displays of tall sugar cane and corn are herbs and rare fruits from around the world. They were provided by the Orange County’s Rare Fruit Growers.

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Crops are grown for demonstration purposes, said Langston, but when it’s harvest time, the Food Distribution Agency picks up the produce and takes it to local food banks.

The country dinner-dance reflected the foundation’s message that nothing should be wasted, she added. Leftover barbecued beef and chicken--and about 500 pounds of salad and dessert--were carted to food banks after the final line dance.

“Even the produce in crates and barrels used as displays were given away,” said Langston. “It was the best recycling program.”


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