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Murray involved in 'Slow Food' fundraiser for San Pasqual Academy

 

Last updated 10/27/2006 at Noon



Bonsall’s Scott Murray, who is the director of the San Pasqual Academy’s agriculture program and the president of Slow Food San Diego, was involved in a “Slow Food” fundraiser for the foster teen high school August 27 at Orfila Vineyards in Escondido.

Fourteen chefs and more than 350 supporters in attendance partook in the Slow Food experience. “Our fundraiser was very successful,” Murray said. “We were quite happy about that. Had a great silent auction.”

The Slow Food movement began in response to the trend toward fast food. Murray, who also chairs the board of the Mission Resource Conservation District, notes a connection between slow food and promoting sustainable agriculture. “One of the extraordinary things was how much support we had from restaurants, food producers, to make the event happen,” he said of the fundraiser.

The “Taste of Slow Food” fundraiser for San Pasqual Academy began in 2004. “It grew, so that’s very exciting,” Murray said. “We’re very excited with the success of this year’s event.”

The site of San Pasqual Academy had been used by the Seventh Day Adventist Church before being purchased by the County of San Diego for use as a school and residence for foster teens. The Adventists had an organic farm on the property, and the agricultural program at San Pasqual Academy helps provide career opportunities for the at-risk youth in addition to fulfilling a commitment by the county to nearby residents that agriculture would be re-established on the foster youth program site.

The utilization of sustainable agriculture philosophies also helps the students with problem-solving skills. “We’re looking at the future of agriculture in San Diego County. We need to figure out how to grow more with less water,” Murray said.

The farm area covers 55 acres of the 258-acre total site. San Pasqual Academy currently has a 20-acre vegetable farm and a 10-acre avocado orchard. Plans exist to develop a research center on the premises.

Murray is now in his second year with San Pasqual Academy. He had committed to three years. “This year we’re going to start building our staff,” he said.

Goals include obtaining a full-time farm manager and another full-time instructor. If a full-time teacher is obtained Murray would step back from that role in order to develop the research program.

The assets of the agricultural program also include two baby red wattle pigs. Those animals are among the first of their breed on the West Coast and were obtained from a Kansas farm in June. Although the red wattle pigs are considered to be better-tasting and healthier than standard pork, industrial considerations led to production preference of pigs which would fatten faster and which accepted confinement better than the wattle pigs.

There are two pairs of red wattle pigs in California; the other pair was delivered to Napa Valley. “This is an endangered variety that our connections with slow food had brought to us,” Murray said.

The red wattle pigs were better able to tend for themselves on farms, so they were often the choice of family farmers before the industrial factors eliminated breeding of the red wattle pigs. An estimated 300 red wattle pigs currently exist in the United States, and San Pasqual Academy will be part of the recently-initiated breeding program.

Murray explained that sustainable agriculture includes specialty crops. “That’s part of the philosophy of slow food,” he said.

The slow food theme was well-received by supporters of San Pasqual Academy. “It was amazing,” Murray said. “It naturally resonates with people.”

Murray’s own children attend Guajome Academy and are in twelfth, ninth, and sixth grade. His commitment to the county’s foster youth, as well as to sustainable agriculture, give him incentive to make the 28-mile one-way trip from Bonsall to San Pasqual which takes 35 minutes without any traffic delays.

“It’s a grassroots program,” he said. “We’re always looking for additional people who are interested in supporting the program we are building.”

 

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