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Community Cultivators: Growing responsibility

Local 4-H club offers ag experience for Westside students

Community Cultivators: Growing responsibility

Community Cultivators 4-H members from Westside Ministries sort out fruit they will be showcasing at the Stanislaus County Fair. About 75 students will be showcasing two tons of fruits and vegetab...

POSTED July 11, 2012 3:10 p.m.

Members of the Community Cultivators 4-H club HH  from Westside Ministries have been working hard for months putting the finishing touches for their entries for the Stanislaus County Fair.  About 75 students will be showcasing two tons of fruits and vegetables that they have solemnly planted, cared for, and harvested themselves all year round.

“We start planting our produce in April so that we will be plentiful when the fair comes around,” said Community Cultivators coordinator Candy Silveria.  “Our students pick the most uniform fruits and vegetables so they can be properly judged.”    

The students are able to use land at the Westside Ministries site to grow their entries and prepare fair exhibits. Students plant different theme and color gardens every summer like a salsa garden with peppers and tomatoes. They also planted fruit trees and their own sunflowers and peanuts and cultivated them at the end of the season.

“We have about 10 exhibits that our students will be participating in,” said Director of Westside Ministries JoLynn DiGrazia.  “Aside from fruits, vegetables, and canned fruit, our students will be entering contests which consists of open garden exhibits, baking, landscape garden, arts, crafts, and sewing projects.”

Some students of Westside Ministries are also entering animals at the fair this year.

“The kids are responsible for buying their own animals, feed, and all the amenities necessary for the animal’s survival. We later showcase the animals to other business and make sure they are bought so our kids can get a profit,” said DiGrazia.  “We are teaching them how to become small business owners and self-sufficient for when they get older.”

Students fundraise year-round to cover fair entry fees, supplies, and seeds.

They have two major fundraisers during the year to help cover costs.   They have a silent auction during Christmas where each student’s family donates an item worth more than $25.  Westside Ministries also has a carnitas dinner and a fireworks booth during the summer.  

“Many of our kids cannot afford to cover the fee entries for the fair and these fundraisers help cover the necessary costs so our kids can participate,” said DiGrazia.

Last year, Community Cultivators students earned over $60,000.

 “Through this program, we are teaching our kids the importance of hard work and responsibility.  There’s no greater satisfaction than seeing their hard work pay off,” DiGrazia said.

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