Barbara: I was looking forward to this past Saturday morning ever since I read that the University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners would be presenting a fall vegetable workshop at the Farm and Food Lab in the Great Park. Irvine is something of a wasteland when it comes to these sorts of things, so the fact that there was a workshop like this surprised me.
The second surprise was the Farm and Food Lab. I was truly amazed when I laid eyes on it. I’d heard that there was something agricultural happening in Orange County’s Great Park, but more than this I did not know. Well, turns out that there’s a not-quite-year-old, 2-acre farm that has produced more than 6 tons of organic row crops that have been donated to local food banks!
And next to this very productive field are beautiful raised beds brimming with fruits, vegetables and ornamentals, each planted in keeping with a theme — a pizza garden, fruit salad garden, a Native American garden, etc.
In the midst of this delightful setting the Park crew set up a large tent for the lecture. And that brings us to the next, and perhaps biggest, surprise. The tent wasn’t big enough to accommodate all the people that showed up! In my wildest dreams I wouldn’t have imagined that more than 20 people or so would come, but there were at least triple that number. Bring me my smelling salts!
Kay Havens, a certified Master Gardener, gave a great presentation. It was informative, funny and full of tips for growing fall crops in containers and small gardens. Afterward, I spoke to Tom Larson, chief landscape and farming consultant, who told me that there are plans for a much larger farm and a community garden.
Things are looking up in OC, people! If you’ve lived in Orange County for as long as I have, you too would be pinching yourself to make sure this wasn’t a dream. I think I’ll stick around to see what happens next!
P.S. There are four more workshops scheduled. See the Great Park site for more information. And come to the next one — you won’t be disappointed.