New season for community harvesting continues at Tucson Village Farm

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Many families are stretching budgets to feed their children quality food.
Some parents may struggle to balance that pressure with their wish for their kids to eat nutritious fruits and vegetables.

KGUN 9 On Your Side recently visited the Tucson Village Farm to see what guests would find as staff restarted their ‘U-Pick’ community harvesting events.

Some people shared how grateful they were this community resource is still accessible and open.

“I didn’t know that this was at the end of Roger Road,” Gregory Eddings said. “We had a little bit of trouble finding it, but I’m going to tell you it was worth it.”

Among the rows of kale and swiss chard, Eddings had a moment in time to enjoy nature with his daughter, grandchildren and family. Here, in a way, his family tree was touching the soil, looking for the right ingredients to cook a wonderful meal.

“We picked up a little bit of broccoli, what was left of it. We’ve been sampling all the different arugulas… some of the spinach,” he said. “We got some really good instructions today.”

That’s the kind of knowledge that has blossomed in the 12 years of camps and summers that Lily McGrath has come to Tucson Village Farm. “I’m just trying to get more involved and do more community service through the farm,” she said.

“I knew Lily when she was eight years old,” farm staff leader Jess Luse said. “Now she’s 18 years old, but there’s so many Lily’s that are here.”

In the time the working urban farm has been open, Luse said the farm’s directors have focused on showing kids and teens what it takes to cultivate and harvest the land. Ambassadors like McGrath, who find a second family at the farm, also make unforgettable memories like planned hikes down into the Grand Canyon.

“We start training for it in January,” McGrath said. “It’s just a really good bonding experience, and it’s something that only the farm lets you do. It just makes it accessible and it’s amazing.”

In this chapter of the farm’s growing story, Luse, the farm’s outreach director and coordinator, said she’s grateful her team can begin teaching families how to cook the produce they pick, inside the donation-funded culinary center.

“This was a dream come true after 10 years of having programming at the farm,” Luse said. “Now, we can really apply the nutrition lessons and teach people how to prepare the food.”

The farm works as a program with the University of Arizona and the Pima County Cooperative Extension. While they sell produce by the pound people can pick each Tuesday this season, TVF staff said they also rely on grants and donations to keep their roots planted in the community.

José Zozaya is an anchor and reporter for KGUN 9. Before arriving in southern Arizona, José worked in Omaha, Nebraska where he covered issues ranging from local, state and federal elections, to toxic chemical spills, and community programs impacting immigrant families. Share your story ideas and important issues with José by emailing [email protected] or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


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