Earlier this month I accompanied the Summerland 4th and 5th graders on a field trip to the Santa Barbara Mission’s organic garden. It was a wonderful visit, very informative and fun. The kids had a chance to tour the gardens and do a little bit of garden work, enjoy some of the bounty of the garden (the raw sugar cane being the biggest hit!) and learn a bit about the role that food played in the relationship between the missionaries and the native peoples of the area.
The garden space is really amazing, it’s a beautiful layout and the garden planners have been careful to plant only crops that the missionaries would have grown themselves. As we toured the garden we stopped by a Valencia orange tree and our docent, Professor Jerry Sortomme, explained that the orange seeds were brought over from the missionary’s native Spain, probably from the town of Valencia to be precise, and planted in the garden not only for the enjoyment of the missionaries but also as a wonderful treat for the native peoples who spent time at the Mission. Professor Sortomme explained that the oranges would have been the sweetest things that the native peoples had ever tasted and probably helped to entice them back to the Mission. So interesting to think about the unifying effect of food. And truly the sweet orange slices and sections of sugar cane that the kids sampled had a very similar engaging affect!
Thank you to the Sisters of Magdelane, La Huerta garden staff and docents and the s’Cool garden crew for making the trip possible.