Buena Park High’s first farm-to-fork luncheon a tasty treat for agriculture program

BUENA PARK – Many of the farm-to-fork food programs Jessica Fernandes knows about boast that their products are locally grown.

“But,” she cautioned, “‘local’ applies to anywhere within 800 miles.”

On Saturday, Buena Park High’s agriculture program did those organizations one better, serving more than 100 guests at its first farm to fork luncheon meals made from ingredients grown on campus and harvested by students.

“We put on this event because we thought we had a unique experience to provide,” said Fernandes, head of the agriculture department. “We grew 70 percent of the products on the menu at the high school, which makes it truly farm to fork.”

Before noon, about 15 agriculture students took groups of visitors on tours of Buena Park’s 4-acre farm, which includes more than 100 livestock animals, different growing areas and orchards, and production facilities, such as greenhouses.

The menu included appetizers (Chinese 5 spice meatballs in plum sauce, tomato Parmesan canape, bacon and cheese gougères, to name a few), two courses and dessert, as prepared by John Newton, the school’s culinary arts instructor, and his students.

Inspired by “The Red Barn,” a seasonal farm-to-fork dining experience at the OC Fair & Event Center, the luncheon was a way to “introduce students to the community and gain personal relationships with community members,” Fernandes said. Proceeds from ticket sales and a silent auction went to students with livestock projects.

“With any luck,” Fernandes said, “this (luncheon) is the first of many to come.”

The Fullerton Joint Union High School District has five agriculture programs. Buena Park’s has nearly 500 students and provides district cafeterias with produce for meals, Fernandes said.

“We want these students to have a great connection with community members,” she added. “Hopefully, we can facilitate long-term relationships and support for not only the agriculture industry, but for this program and these kids.”

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