With an award received from the Fund for Santa Barbara, Blue Sky Center implemented the Cuyama Valley Victory Gardens Project to confront immediate issues of food access in the Cuyama Valley during COVID-19.
Blue Sky Center’s Land Steward Sandra Uribe spearheaded and launched The Cuyama Victory Gardens Project, installing raised bed gardens, implementing bilingual curricula, and supplying planter materials, seeds, and starter plants for 11 families to grow their own fresh produce.
Sandra Uribe organized a workshop to show Victory Garden families how to identify the best garlic bulbs to use as seeds, how to prepare the soil, and how to plant them. After her hands-on demonstration, she provided each participant with a set of tools and seeds to be used at home.
Blue Sky Center released the “Sabores del Valle / Tastes of the Valley,” a book of recipes shared by leaders and friends of the Cuyama Valley Victory Gardens. From drinks and appetizers to entrees and desserts from many family archives, these recipes reflect the diversity, creativity, and expertise of the victory garden community.
20 members of the Cuyama Valley Victory Garden Network participated in two “talleres de fermentación” (fermentation workshops) led by Michelle Lopez of @wildatheartojai! These included a discussion of fermented foods’ health benefits, a tasting of fermented beet juice, a step-by-step demonstration of the fermentation process, and finally the opportunity to give fermenting a try: everyone took home a jar of cabbage and other veggies that are getting more nutritious by the day. Each event began with a shared meal prepared by participants, featuring Guatemalan Chuchitos from the “Sabores del Valle” network cookbook.
Seven garden leaders completed Blue Sky Center’s 6-week entrepreneurial course on how to start their own food business over the summer. During the course, they learned more about MEKOS, how to get a food business license, and how to utilize community kitchens.
Future Plans for activation:
The Victory Gardens Project Report will be released in December 2021 and their group intends to align with the Cuyama Valley Food Action Network Working Group.
- “We asked ourselves: how do we build a vibrant food system in the Cuyama Valley? Currently, we don’t have a grocery store. This initiative along with the Cuyama Buckhorn partnership became part of the solution.”
- “I think 2020 was really debilitating but it also catalyzed the food system. Suddenly, a place that did not have a food system has one.”
- “Resulted in the establishment of a local garden-to-table system that provided an immersive educational opportunity for families, empowering them to find food security within their own backyards.”
- “Created a supportive network for participating families that facilitated information sharing, ensuring the success of each family’s garden and providing a sense of community during the onset of the pandemic.”
— excerpts from conversation with Sandra Urebe about the project