Going 'from the farm to your fork'

Too many children think French fries count as a serving of vegetables, and that tomato sauce comes out of a can, or worse, is squeezed from a bottle.

Children and parents now have the chance to see how food moves "from the farm to your fork" at the Great Park Farm & Food Lab, which officially opened on Saturday in Irvine, according to a park news release.

The Farm & Food Lab features 12 hands-on gardens with themes such as a "pizza and spaghetti," connecting herbs and children's favorite pie toppings, a "sensory" garden full of fragrant flowers and textured shrubs and other vegetable and flowering motifs.

"The Farm [and] Food Lab has become an instantly popular feature here, and is emblematic of our commitment to permanent agriculture in this growing metropolitan park," said Larry Agran, chairman of the Orange County Great Park Corp. "It's unusual that a metropolitan park would consider agriculture to be a feature, but the popularity of the Farm [and] Food Lab proves to us that people are interested in learning about the origins of the food they eat every day.

"Having the Farm [and] Food Lab in the same place where kids can come to play sports sends an important message tying fitness and nutrition together."

As of this weekend, the facility will hold regular public hours from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and free workshops hosted by University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners and other Great Park staff members.

The Farm & Food Lab is maintained as part of the annual operating budget for the park and through volunteers and donations from the community, according to Jenn Starnes, public information officer for the Great Park.

The Farm & Food Lab is slated for improvements under the Western Sector Park Development Plan budget, which includes an estimated $300,000 allotted for Farm & Food Lab enhancements.

Other businesses such as Tierra Verde industries and Scott's Miracle Gro have also donated resources and materials to the Farm & Food Lab educational programs, according to Starnes.


"Backyard Orchards" on Oct. 16

"Family Gardening" on Oct. 30

"Composting" on Nov. 6

Workshops run from 10 a.m. to noon and are free to the public.

Visit http://www.ocgp.org or call (949) 724-7420 for more information.

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