By Lindsey Bro

This month, we’re inviting you down to The Ecology Center to check out our newly renovated farm stand. It’s full of winter produce, an incredible amount of seasonal citrus, and all the bulk items you need for eco-friendly spring cleaning, plus general day-to-day use. As members, you not only get 10% off your entire purchase at the farm stand, you get 10% off a Farm Share membership – a weekly or bi-weekly produce box, full of organic fruits and vegetables from our farm and local farmers in the region. Signups are open until March 1, either at the farm stand, by phone or by email.

With all the cool days, chilly nights, and above-average rainfall we’ve been getting, the winter greens are loving it – from broccoli to cauliflower, hearty lettuces, oranges, grapefruit, lemons, apples, heirloom Kyoto red carrots, and lots of root vegetables ready for roasting. All that rain also means the thousands of strawberries we’ve planted are taking a little longer to mature than usual, a trend you can expect across Southern California this year. But when they are ready, they’re going to be delicious. Keep an eye on our online calendar. In April, we will have the TASTE Festival to celebrate the strawberry with interactive art installations and a you-pick!

By transitioning The Ecology Center from an education center to an ecological oasis with a working regenerative agriculture farm, community events, education, and more, we knew a lot of our success was going to come from you caring about your food, where it comes from, and the people who grow it.

As one of the only organic farms in Orange County, we’re growing produce and creating access to whole foods and a sustainable lifestyle for more than 3 million people. With most food traveling 1,500 miles to get to our plate, it’s usually out of season, flavorless, full of pesticides, packaged in plastic, and eventually bound for the landfill. For us, the farm stand is about a tangible way we all begin to transform our food system by connecting to it and the model we’ve created for how food gets from the soil to our home.

In America alone, the amount of food waste is nearly unbelievable, and one of the easiest ways we can tackle the problem is by supporting local, seasonal agriculture. Currently, our food system is a linear cycle in which we lose not only valuable nutrients, but vast quantities of food. As we shift toward a more cyclical and connected cycle, it’s crucial we connect the consumer to the farmer. As with most things, shifting toward a more conscious form of consumption starts with education and gets put into practice through access. If you’re looking to make a shift, start by supporting local farmers or buying in bulk and refilling your bottles, rather than buying new items packaged in plastic. Our bulk section at the stand includes Dr. Bronner’s castile soap, sea salt, Epsom salt, baking soda, bulk soap, dish soap, and laundry soap; there’s also white rice, brown rice, flor de mayo beans, quinoa, French green lentils, red lentils, and farro.

Come experience the ongoing tradition of a local farm stand by visiting ours daily from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at 32701 Alipaz St., San Juan Capistrano. As a resident of San Juan Capistrano, you can claim your annual membership to The Ecology Center here; just be sure to bring proof of residence.

Upcoming Events at the Farm

As we work to put the culture back in agriculture, keep an eye out on our calendar for a full range of exciting spring events happening at the farm. Coming up is the TASTE Festival, exploring strawberries and much more. For more details or to sign up for Farm Share, visit theecologycenter.org.

Lindsey Bro is a Southern California-based copywriter and content creator for purpose-driven brands. As a contributing writer and friend of The Ecology Center, her most recent work with them has been The Community Table cookbook.

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