Written by Milena Castillo-Grynberg, Food Systems Educator

At Portola’s monthly workday on Saturday, January 20th, 30+ volunteers gathered for another round of rainy gardening activities, a true testament to the community’s dedication to this space. Workday regulars were joined by a mother/daughter pair from NCL and a handful of curious students from nearby high and elementary schools who came to lend a helping hand and learn about the project. As usual, the morning was filled with chatter and laughter, and by midday the group had harvested over 150 lbs of vibrant greens and sweet peas, donated to Samaritan House later that day. 

Curious Portola Elementary students helping to harvest. (January 2024. Photo taken by EGC Food Systems Educator, Milena).

Aside from harvesting, volunteers also freed dormant saplings from encroaching weeds and thinned the impressive bed of radishes which was practically overflowing with new growth since last month’s harvest. While working, volunteers of all ages also enjoyed one of the perks of wetter workdays: mushroom spotting! There was always a delighted yelp when a new patch was discovered, followed by scampering feet as an excited crowd quickly gathered. Portola workdays fall on the third Saturday of every month; If you are interested in joining, you can sign-up here!

Mushroom spotting in the Portola garden. (January 2024. Photo taken by EGC Food Systems Educator, Milena).

Speaking of fungus, Food Explorers have been exploring the world of trash and decomposers since returning from Winter Break. They are now investigating the fifth and final step of our Food System: Disposal. Students are asking important questions about why so much food gets thrown away unnecessarily, recounting personal stories around food waste, and  proposing potential solutions to address this serious problem. Environmental Engineers have been doing some brainstorming of their own; At their latest meeting, students suggested many excellent ideas for Earth Day events and projects, including waste management education. Over the next few months, they will be working to further develop these initiatives.

Portola volunteers harvesting yummy greens to donate to Samaritan House. (January 2024. Photo taken by EGC Food Systems Educator, Milena).


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