Activist Dolores Huerta speaking at UC Santa Cruz in 2022.
(Via Devi Pride Photography)
Food & Drink

From Soquel to Pajaro, fundraisers put the focus on farms, farmworkers

Community Bridges’ Farm to Fork Gala happens July 30 in Pajaro, followed by an August event featuring activist Dolores Huerta to raise money for the Center for Farmworker Families and Esperanza Community Farms. September brings benefit dinners featuring local chefs to Watsonville and Soquel.

This story was originally featured in this week’s Lily Belli on Food newsletter. Be the first to hear about food and drink news in Santa Cruz County — sign up for Lily’s email newsletter here and text alerts here.

As summer stretches toward fall, four Santa Cruz County nonprofits are throwing farm-focused events to raise money for vital causes. Mark your calendar for these fundraisers:

On July 30, Community Bridges’ Farm to Fork Gala returns for its eighth year, and for the first time the Santa Cruz County nonprofit is partnering with Wines of the Santa Cruz Mountains, an organization that promotes wines and wineries in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Together, they aim to raise financial relief funds for farmers and farmworkers affected by the storms and floods in the Pajaro Valley earlier this year, as well as other Community Bridges programs. The event will be held in Pajaro at Lester Properties’ historic produce packaging and shipping facility. Chef Brad Briske of Home restaurant in Soquel will prepare a family-style meal and attendees will enjoy a wine-tasting session from local vintners. Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner Juan Hidalgo is the keynote speaker. Tickets are $175 per person and can be purchased here.

On Aug. 12, the Center for Farmworker Families and Esperanza Community Farms are presenting “Harvesting Equity,” an event featuring civil rights activist Dolores Huerta at the Henry J. Mello Center in Watsonville. Huerta has championed the rights of farmworkers, women and the LGBTQ+ community for decades, and she will be joined by local activists Mireya Gómez-Contreras of Esperanza Community Farms and Ann López, the executive director of the Center for Farmworker Families. They’ll discuss how to cultivate sustainable communities through organic farming and economic justice, and all the proceeds from the event will benefit those two nonprofits. “Harvesting Equity” is sponsored by Community Foundation Santa Cruz County and the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County. Tickets are $20 through Eventbrite.

The Fall Feast returns to Farm Discovery at Live Earth on Sept. 23.
The Fall Feast returns to Farm Discovery at Live Earth on Sept. 23.
(Via Farm Discovery)

On Sept. 23, Farm Discovery will celebrate its 16th year of providing farm-based education at Live Earth Farm, an organic family-owned farm in Watsonville. This year, the annual benefit dinner will feature appetizers from chef Diego Felix of Fonda Felix with a wine-paired dinner prepared by chef Jessica Yarr of the Grove in Felton and Eastern European pop-up Chickenfoot. This year’s theme is “Wonder” and will spotlight the abundance of fruits and vegetables grown in the Santa Cruz area. The organization aims to raise $90,000 at this event to support farm visits, transportation costs and garden and kitchen supplies for the more than 3,500 students and family members expected to visit during the 2023-24 school year. Tickets start at $200 at

Also on Sept. 23, Teen Kitchen Project will host its annual fundraising dinner at Everett Family Farms, an organic family-owned farm in Soquel. This year, chef Elizabeth Albertucci — an alum of Manresa restaurant in Los Gatos who opened a cafe in Scotts Valley in partnership with Love Apple Farms this summer — and Teen Kitchen Project teen chefs will prepare a four-course, plant-based meal that emphasizes seasonality, paired with local wines or alcohol-free cocktails. Teen Kitchen Project delivers more than 2,200 meals per week to clients facing critical or chronic illness across Santa Cruz County while teaching teens lifelong skills. The goal is to raise $100,000 to support the nonprofit’s youth development and delivery programs. Tickets are $285 and can be purchased here.