That Hometown Taste: Local pickings

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Living in Winters puts us smack in the middle of a hub of farms and orchards. I took it for granted until my early mid-20s when I was living in Michigan and searching for an orange that tasted like I was eating a glass of freshly pressed orange juice. I never found it out there Citrus season has always been one that I look forward to the most. We used to keep our eyes peeled on the side of the road for orange stands to pop up. Especially when I first went to college in Los Angeles county and was able to drive home on the weekends to stock up on local favorites to bring back with me. After moving out to Kalamazoo, MI I discovered that not all produce is equal in quality. I would begrudgingly walk through the Harding’s and Meijer produce sections and sift through piles of fruit and vegetables that were lackluster in smell and color and bland in taste. I ended up working as a server at Don Pablo’s (a Tex-Mex restaurant chain) just so I would have access to avocados and salsa. Now that I’ve gone on a few adventures of independence and have settled down back in Yolo County I can happily dive into fresh produce anytime. I also keep an eye out for U-Pick type of opportunities because it’s definitely an experience.  Over the summer staff writer Aaron Geerts and I went out to Impossible Acres to pick berries and stone fruits. Not only did we go home with a box full of blackberries, peaches and apricots; but we also got to spend time outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine. We also found a bird’s nest with eggs nestled into the blackberry vine. It was an experience in nature at its finest. I also want to make sure to not overlook the fact that Winters Farm to School has helped to facilitate gardens at both Waggoner Elementary School and Shirley Rominger Intermediate School. Not every student in our state is given the opportunity to help tend to a garden, or pick and taste the foods they helped to care for. Waggoner is also home to orange, lemon and small mandarin trees growing and producing on campus. Students are allowed to pick and eat from the trees. Cathay Olsen, the Winters school district Director of Food Services, told me that when students grow it and pick it they are curious to try tasting it, and tell their friends about it. The Winters High School ag team has also been hard at work to transition the Ag Site into a working farm experience for students. Recently, mandarine trees were planted out in the field in part of the endeavor that began in the summer of 2018 when Gary Molina leveled the fields as part of his Senior Capstone project. We’re truly lucky to have access to fresh produce and opportunities to engage in picking it. I hope that everyone takes up the chance to support our local farms and to enjoy the delicious results of their efforts.

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