• Garden Share Program and "Pounds for Produce" Contest Yield Bumper Crop for FOOD Share - Tuesday, July 27, 2010 at

  • What a difference a year makes. When FOOD Share, Ventura County’s regional food bank, launched its Garden Share program last spring with the help of Agromin, a manufacturer of earth-friend soil products for farmers, landscapers and consumers, little did they know that in just one-year’s time, FOOD Share would receive over 65,000 lbs. of fresh produce donations from over 190 community garden partners.

    Based on the concept of growing Victory Gardens to supplement community food needs during World Wars I and II, Garden Share encourages local gardeners, schools, churches, neighborhoods and commercial growers to “grow a row” to share with their hungry neighbors.

    In addition to the year-round Garden Share program, FOOD Share and Agromin, Garden Share's official sponsor, held a “Pounds for Produce” gardening contest to see which individuals and schools could grow and donate the most vegetables to help feed the hungry in Ventura County. The contest ended in July. The six competition categories were potatoes, tomatoes, celery, onions, broccoli and citrus.

    “The Pounds for Produce gardening contest included some fierce competitors,” says Jeanne Benitez FOOD Share’s development manager. “In the end, our winners brought in thousands of valuable pounds of produce for FOOD Share.”

    The big winner in the school category was Las Colinas Middle School in Camarillo. The Las Colinas Life Lab program grew and donated the most varieties of produce: citrus/oranges (751 lbs), broccoli (20 lbs), onions (40 lbs), potatoes (30 lbs) and celery (50 lbs).

    Additional winners were individual gardener Michael Laroche who contributed 1,795 lbs. of citrus, the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging Senior Nutrition Garden, located at the Juvenile Justice Complex, which donated 29,000 tomatoes and West Coast Nursery, which contributed 314 lbs. of heirloom tomatoes. Winners receive the same amount of Agromin soil amendments, on a pound for pound basis, as their produce donation.

    Agromin is the green materials recycler for over 50 Southern California communities including communities throughout Ventura County. Each month, Agromin receives thousands of tons of organic material and then uses a safe, natural and scientific system to recycle this organic material into its soil products.

    "Garden Share and the 'Pounds for Produce' contest offer a strong sustainability message," says Bill Camarillo, Agromin CEO. "By growing vegetables locally, we help feed our neighbors who are in need. Plus, winners receive soil made from locally recycled green materials, which further helps Ventura County close the recycling loop and become a more sustainable community."

    To become a Garden Share member, visit www.foodshare.com and click on the Garden Share logo.

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  • Buena Park High's Future Farmers Display Their Sheep, Calves and Pigs at OC Fair - Tuesday, July 20, 2010 at

  • Think Buena Park and farm animals don't readily come to mind. However, Buena Park High School students are proudly presenting 26 animals for judging at this year's Orange County Fair. Students take part in the school's nationally acclaimed Future Farmers of America (FFA) program. Agromin, a manufacturer of earth-friendly soil products for farmers, landscapers and consumers, is the program's corporate sponsor.

    Nancy Jauregui, a senior at Buena Park High School, is showing off her calf, "Pazookie" at the fair. "Raising Pazookie has been a great experience," says Jauregui. "It takes dedication, a lot of hours, and responsibility. I love the program and know I can take the skills I'm learning all through my life."

    Students will be showing eight sheep, two calves and 17 pigs at the fair, which runs through August 15. Sixteen of the program's bantam chickens are also on display. "The students are at the fair at 6:00 a.m. to milk, feed and clean pens," says Jessica Weisbart, agriculture teacher and advisor for Buena Park High School's FFA program.

    In the past Weisbart's students have won the fair's Supreme Grand Champion award as well as numerous class and division awards. "Fair time is fun time," said Weisbart. "The kids, parents and the faculty are really excited to participate."

    For more information about the Orange County Fair, to http://www.ocfair.com/2010/.

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