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Field Days, Workshops, and Programs

  • 2019 Urban Living Education Expo

    Dec 17, 2019


    By Tammy Majcherek
    Author - Community Educator II
  • December 2019 Cherimoya Tasting

    Dec 17, 2019

    South Coast Research and Extension Center

    Cherimoya Tasting and Orchard Tour

    Tasting Dec 2019
    The South Coast Research and Extension Center hosted visitors coming from all over Southern California attending the annual Cherimoya Tasting on December 17, 2019. Through a blind tasting, evaluators were asked to rate the (8) varieties using a basic one to five scale based on texture, flavor, and overall performance to do determine if there is any difference in rankings as a result of an earlier harvest.                             

    The cherimoya collection at the South Coast REC contains various cultivars that are not widely available and sought after by avid fans of this fruit. The varieties that were evaluated included ‘Mc Pherson', ‘Ott', ‘Knight', ‘Loma', ‘Nata', ‘El Bumpo', and ‘Concha Lisa'.

    Harvest and tasting were done early to collect fruit before the cold December nights, rain and winds hit in the later part of the month and early January when a lot of fruit is lost.

    Touring the cherimoya orchard
    Following the tasting, attendees toured the orchard with volunteer docents learning about the various varieties and cultural practices after which the group was treated to a trip to the persimmon orchard for a quick harvest.

    McPherson, a new addition to the tasting panel, was the clear winner this year with Concha Lisa rounding out the bottom three. Based on the compiled data, and with the exception of adding a new variety to the mix, the evaluation numbers were not that far off from tastings typically done in January. The top three varieties for this evaluation are listed below.

    South Coast REC Dec 2019 Cherimoya Tasting Top Three Varieties










    El Bumpo






    El Bumpo


    Thank you to everyone for supporting this event. A special kudos to our fabulous UCCE Master Gardener volunteers and Center staff for all their hard work.

    By Tammy Majcherek
    Author - Community Educator II
  • Thanksgiving Veggie U-Pick 2019

    Dec 11, 2019

    Family fun
    Families gathered from across Orange County to participate in the first annual Thanksgiving Veggie U-Pick to promote food security awareness and encourage eating fresh vegetables and fruit.

    Bounty from underground
    Participants of all ages had a great time digging in the dirt for root vegetables like carrots, beets, and sweet potatoes, pulling up onions, clipping sage, cutting celery and snapping off fresh green beans. In addition to the fresh vegetables the attendees had the opportunity to take home persimmons, pomegranates, apples and even sunflowers for the final touch to their holiday table.

    Cutting celery
    While in the collecting their harvest, UCCE Master Gardeners were available to answer questions and provide information on safe food handling and proper storage of fruits and vegetables.


    Harvest for those in need
    Many thanks to everyone who attended and assisted to create such a wonderful day full of smiling faces. A special thank you to the youth from the 4-H program who came out and harvest a bounty of food taking the donation for those in need as part of their giving project. A truly good day!



    By Tammy Majcherek
    Author - Community Educator II
  • Persimmon Workshop and U-Pick 2019

    Dec 11, 2019

    Late winter and early spring rains made 2019 a great year for the persimmon harvest here at South Coast REC providing a bountiful harvest of fruit.


    Prepping fruit
    A group of twenty-seven attended the Persimmon Hoshigaki Workshop & U-Pick held on November 23, 2019 at the South Coast Research and Extension Center. The attendees were treated to a lecture and hands-on demonstration preparing persimmons for drying using the Japanese Hoshigaki method with the assistance of Isabel Barkman and fellow Master Gardener volunteers.

    Strung and ready to dry2
    On the tram
    Following the lecture and a tasting of selected varieties, participants took a tram ride out to the South Coast REC persimmon germplasm collection for a rare opportunity to harvest Hachiya varieties in addition to others while learning about pruning and getting helpful tips from UCCE Master Gardener docents.

     Many thanks to the staff and Master Gardener volunteers who assisted with this workshop and the orchards year-round.

    By Tammy Majcherek
    Author - Community Educator II
  • Learning about watersheds...

    Nov 7, 2019


    By Tammy Majcherek
    Author - Community Educator II
  • Apple Tasting

    Oct 30, 2019

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    This past Saturday, attendees of all ages gathered for some fall fun tasting apples grown at the UC ANR South Coast REC and learning a thing or two about “high-chill” apple varieties.

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    Since 2013, Dave Wilson Nursery has overseen a project here at the South Coast REC looking at the success of 20+ varieties of "high-chill" apples here in warm, and very "low-chill" Irvine. (High-Chill meaning the apple needs about 1,000+ hours of temperatures 32-45F). The goal of the project was to prove that there is a far greater palette of apples available to us here in Southern California than just the few popular low chill varieties like Anna and Dorset Golden.

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    Tom Spellman from Dave Wilson Nursery talked to attendees who sampled about 15 varieties of apples like Red Fuji, Braeburn, Melrose, North Pole, Cox Orange Pippin, and Gravenstein. This was an eye-opening event for anyone looking to start growing apples who now have a better understanding of just how well some of these chilly varieties can do in our much warmer climate.

    Thank you to Tom Spellman, The Orange County Master Gardeners, and the Rare Fruit Growers of Orange County for all of your help in picking, prepping, and sharing your love of apples with the public!


    By Tammy Majcherek
    Editor - Community Educator II
  • Persimmon Workshop and U-Pick

    Oct 21, 2019

    Would you like to pick your own half-bushel of persimmon from one of our 50+ varieties and learn about the hoshigaki method of drying persimmon into delectable, sugary treats? Join us on Saturday, November 23rd!

    For more information go to: http://ucanr.edu/survey/survey.cfm?surveynumber=28200


    By Tammy Majcherek
    Author - Community Educator II
  • Urban Living Education Expo - Sept. 28, 2019

    Sep 19, 2019


    Urban Living Education Exp Flyer - Sept. 28th 9am - 2pm

    By Tammy Majcherek
    Author - Community Educator II
  • Too much summer squash? Want to preserve that tasty summer corn?

    Aug 13, 2019
    Preserving the Season's Summer Crops

    Attached Files:

    By Tammy Majcherek
    Author - Community Educator II
  • Bon Appetit - Making Smoothies

    Aug 7, 2019

    Harvesting vegetables
    UCCE EFNEP and REC Staff welcomed the energetic youth visiting from the Ocean View School District FLY Summer Program guiding them through a fun morning filled with activities linking to the program's theme for the week - ‘Bon Appetit'.

    Upon arrival, the students checked on the pumpkins and sunflowers planted during their visit two weeks prior and were happy to see the seeds had sprouted and were several inches tall. Each of them will receive (1) free pumpkin during the REC's U-pick harvest event. Taking advantage of the cool morning and keeping with the weeks theme, they were encouraged to harvest tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, peppers, and green beans growing nearby to take home.

    Next, it was off to the air-conditioned sanctuary of the conference room to kick off the first of several hands-on lessons planned for this outing starting with learning about hidden sugars in everyday foods and how to calculate the number of teaspoons in their favorite sugary drink while exploring alternative choices.

    Watching yeast multiply just like germs.
    The group then conducted an experiment using yeast, sugar and water to visually connect how germs grow. Selected students were then chosen to wash their hands using water, soap, sanitizer, and wipes after Glo Germ lotion was applied to their hands demonstrating the residue left behind after washing and to investigate which products work best. Using a black light, youth and adults alike were grossed out at the amount under their nails and in the cracks and crevasses of their palms and amazed how some products spread the “germs”. Following the demonstrations, all participants were instructed on safe food handling with an interactive hand washing lesson.

    Thumbs up for this smoothie recipe!
    Now with clean hands, everyone was eager to create their own smoothie drink recipe experimenting with different fruit (fresh, frozen, canned) and base (milk, yogurt, orange juice, crushed ice) options that are common in most households, to encourage incorporating fruit into the diet for a healthier snack. The youth enjoyed exploring the flavor variability and discussing the favorable to not so favorable outcomes. The basic consensus was that too much of any one thing was not necessarily better - especially orange juice.

    Jeopardy, the game, made reviewing the information learned from both field trip visits to the South Coast REC a fun and friendly team competition.

    All teams received an educational incentive from the game to take home in addition to the fruit and vegetables they picked upon arrival along with the fruit leather they made earlier in the month and were anxiously waiting to sample. 

    Many thanks to our special guests for visiting, and to our partners, the UCCE Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program for their collaboration.                

    By Tammy Majcherek
    Author - Community Educator II
  • Our everyday super hero - the honey bee

    Jul 18, 2019

    UC ANR South Coast REC hosted middle school students participating in the FLY summer enrichment program focusing on our everyday super hero, the honey bee.

    Staff and OC Master Gardeners/Food Preservers volunteers guided the youth through a fun morning collecting pollen, making fruit leather, planting seeds, sampling honey varieties, in addition to learning fascinating facts about honey bees, observing the hive and bee parts, and investigating the components of a compound flower.

    Honey Samples
    One of the most enjoyable activities for the youth was tasting different varieties of honey distinguishing the different characteristics - color, flavor, sweetness, crystallization, etc., of the available samples - avocado, orange blossom, cactus, and generic store brand. The hands down favorite  was the cactus.

    Kudos to our UCCE Master Gardeners and Master Food Preservers!

    Exploring bees and distinguishing differences.
    Prepping ingredients for fruit leather.
    Observing the hive.

    Collecting pollen.

    Investigating the components of a sunflower.

    Planting Seeds

    By Tammy Majcherek
    Author - Community Educator II
  • Design elements for today's lifestyle...

    Jun 25, 2019

    How to put your design plans together.
    UC ANR South Coast Research and Extension Center, University of California Cooperative Extension, Orange County and Irvine Ranch Water District hosted a three-part landscape design basics workshop for homeowners seeking to make landscape improvements and take advantage of rebates from their local water purveyor.

    The three-part Garden Design workshop series provides participants with the basic tool kit to create a water conserving landscape whether on their own or with the help of a contractor. Major focus of the workshop centered on how irrigation, plants and growth, and living space come together.


    By Tammy Majcherek
    Author - Community Educator II
  • Fun with Spuds

    Jun 10, 2019

    Bringing in the bounty.
    Our first Potato U-Pick experiment was a success thanks to the potatoes originally planted for the youth GROW program and the deluge of rain this spring which had other plans and delayed their availability. Luckily, this happy accident led to a wonderful morning and may lead to an annual event. 

     Filling up two separate sessions, community participants of all ages were out to enjoy the bright sunshine and learn how this tasty staple is grown while harvesting a bag or two to take home for their favorite recipe.

    Groups of all ages harvesting together.
    The variety of most intrigue to all was the Kennebec, a white jacket potato whose claim to fame is being the chosen one used for the In-N-Out French fry because of its smooth white skin, shallow eyes and its reputation as one of the finest baking potatoes. Other types available were the red thumb fingerling used for roasting and potato salad that is typically harvested in 80-100 days; short season varieties included Yukon gold – a yellow potato with a creamy texture and Red Pontiac known for its mild, creamy flavor.

    Learning about tool safety and safe harvesting practices
    UCCE Master Gardeners assisted with instructing and educating attendees about tool safety, safe harvest practices, and growing vegetables such as potatoes in small spaces, even apartment patios.







    Attached Files:

    By Tammy Majcherek
    Author - Community Educator II
  • Local High School Students Visit South Coast REC

    May 14, 2019

    Learning about careers related to K-9 Training
    Hosted by UC ANR South Coast REC, Cooperative Extension, and the Orange County Farm Bureau, programs that provide agricultural education to an increasingly urban population, local high school students participated in workshops at the South Coast REC that were designed to acquaint the students with ag research techniques, careers in agriculture, and the importance of urban ag and water conservation in their daily lives.

    UCCE Master Gardener volunteers assisted UC staff rotating the Students and teachers between workshops focusing on K-9 training and related careers; crop rotation strategies and hands on potato harvest, vertebrate pest management and gopher trapping demonstration; in addition to plant pathology and strawberry research.

    Harvesting berries
    The students especially liked the opportunity to take home bags of the strawberries and potatoes they harvested.

    Following the morning of interactive activities, a barbeque lunch was prepared by staff, UCCE Master Food Preserver and Master Gardener volunteers. 



    Attached Images:

    By Tammy Majcherek
    Author - Community Educator II
  • FFA Students visit South Coast REC

    May 7, 2019

    FFA students visit South Coast REC.
    On April 26th, UC ANR South Coast REC hosted students from the FFA Statewide Conference visiting from across the state.

    South Coast REC staff, assisted by UCCE Master Gardener volunteers, provide a tour of the Center followed by a walk through the citrus trees for a talk and taste.

    Enjoying the many citrus varieties.
    The youth learned about ACP/HLB, uses, sports and variety crosses, citrus origins, rootstocks, and marketability.

     The group had a great time giving their taste buds a real workout with the varying degrees of sour to sweet notes while tasting several varieties such as sweet lime, kumquats, blood orange, lemons, grapefruit, and pumelo.

    By Tammy Majcherek
    Author - Community Educator II