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Ecology Center And Chipotle Launch The Food Shed in San Juan Capistrano

Dani at the Ecology Center

Dani at the Ecology Center

The Ecology Center is located in San Juan Capistrano and it is a regional hub for eco-education to help engage the community to teach about how to be eco friendly in our environment within our homes and our community.   I recently had the opportunity to visit the Ecology Center when I was invited to check out the new Food Shed on September 26th!  The Food Shed is an interactive exhibit that was founded by a $65,000 grant from the Chipotle organization (They catered the event with fabulous yummy food of course!!). I was very fascinated by this exhibit, not only as a blogger, but as a teacher. Most of the people at the grand opening of the food shed were local teachers and I felt that I fit right in being the alternative high school teacher that I am. 🙂  The activities offered at the Ecology center are for all age ranges from small child to adult, so I naturally thought…what a great place to take my high school students!

Chipotle is Served at the Food Shed

Chipotle is Served at the Food Shed

At the food shed people have an opportunity to learn all about fresh local and seasonal ingredients and the meal preparation and food production process. The food shed is situated on South Coast Farm which is the only organic farm standing in Orange County! I found this to be quite impressive!  The Ecology center and general store is also located inside of the oldest house ever built in San Juan Capistrano!  The property was built in 1878 and was originally the Congdon Farmhouse back in the day!  Within the food shed and the ecology center, you have the opportunity to learn about The Eco-Labs of Food, Water, Energy, Waste, and Shelter.

The Food Shed

The Food Shed

The Taco Hunt, a secondary exhibition component for the Food Shed, is a school-based activity that highlights Chipotle’s “Food With Integrity” philosophy. The Chipotle Cultivate Foundation is committed to creating a more sustainable and healthful food supply and raising awareness of food issues, especially among grade-school children. The Ecology Center is very excited to carry out the foundation’s goals on a local level, by serving as a direct connection to engage the community. Within the Taco Hunt children as well as adults are taught all about the importance of cooking with naturally raised meats, whole, unprocessed foods, and also the importance of dedication to sourcing local produce as much as possible.

Awesome Looking Plant I loved

Awesome Looking Plant I loved

There is also a scavenger hunt within The Ecology Center’s garden that enables visitors to learn about local and seasonal produce by finding ingredients and seeing how far away or close they are located to the kitchen and to see how much effort goes into growing, harvesting, processing, packaging, and transporting to make a meal.

 

For example, the chickens are very deep into the garden to show the effort that it takes to cook with them, whereas the fresh, local vegetables and herbs are all front and center and easy and ready to be picked and cooked.:) Other interactive Food Shed elements include a “What’s in Your Tortilla?” display, a hand crank used to physically represent energy input for processed food production, and dials that can be turned to show food miles, diversity of ingredients, and seasonality.

One Lonely Chicken

One Lonely Chicken

The Food Shed is open to all visitors of  The Ecology Center as well for school groups and guided tours. The center coordinates with local Orange County schools to organize field trips. Kids can participate in hands-on learning activities, which lets them plant their own gardens and have cooking classes as well! I look forward to participating in one of these tours with my students!

Chipotle Food

Chipotle Food

Chipotle Mexican Grill established the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation in 2011 to help to create a more sustainable future. The foundation supports family farms and their communities, educators and programs that teach younger generations about food matters, and support for ranchers and farmers who are working to develop more sustainable practices. Visit www.cultivatefoundation.org for more information. Chipotle opened with a single restaurant in 1993 and currently operates more than 1,500 restaurants. For more information, visit www.chipotle.com.

Dani and Hubby in the Corn Field

Dani and Hubby in the Corn Field

Head over to The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano to see for yourself what they have to offer!  My husband and I are planning to make a trip to one of their Sunday Brunches where everything is farm to table, fresh and organic!  We would also like to take part ion one of their cooking classes where you gather the fresh produce from South Coast Farm and go inside to cook and eat family style with others! This is definitely a great place to go young or old to learn more about how to be eco-friendly in our gorgeous home we call the earth! If we don’t care for our earth who will? J Please let me know about your experience visiting The ecology center below! 🙂

Daniele Holmberg is a Southern California lifestyle blogger that focuses on deals for restaurants, travel, entertainment, clubs, events, and product reviews for her blog, www.DanisDecadentDeals.com. Living in Southern California with her husband, she loves fine dining, travel, and nightlife. She has collaborated with many different businesses to publish stories to promote future events, menus and products. She loves her job as an alternative high school teacher and connecting with others in her community. She also regularly supports and donates to the Humane Society. She hopes to continue to establish and develop relationships with people in the community to help people live champagne dreams on a beer budget!
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