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Urban farmer promotes farms and health as head of state agency

Orange County is one of California's most urban areas, thanks to its amazing combination of climate, scenery, sunshine and attractions.



Orange County is one of California's most urban areas, thanks to its amazing combination of climate, scenery, sunshine and attractions. But it's also where you'll find $300 million worth of food grown each year. One of those still in the fields is A.G. Kawamura, a third-generation farmer who also serves as secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

A.G. has the immense job of promoting and protecting the state's farms and ranches - work that helps assure an abundant, affordable food supply in supermarkets. He travels far and wide to tell the story of how having plenty of good quality food at the store helps us all achieve a balanced diet.

"We spend a lot of time making our plants reach their full potential," Kawamura said while in his green bean field in Irvine. "That's what we're trying to do with children across the nation. We want them to reach their full physiological potential by paying attention to their diet."

A.G. has helped fight hunger in several ways, including spearheading the Incredible Edible Park in Irvine. This unusual park, complete with four acres of crops, used to be an apartment complex. Here, students pick the crops, which then head to an area food bank for the needy.

He also loves to see young people get their hands in the soil and learn firsthand about growing food. One of his favorite stops is Los Cerritos Elementary in nearby Long Beach, the site of an award-winning garden.

"I will tell you that if a child grows food, takes care of it, and harvests it, you've got them hooked forever," Kawamura said.

Helping California farmers and consumers is all in a day's work for A.G. Kawamura.

"Trying to provide an opportunity to have people get more connected with agriculture is good," he said. "It's a complicated world we live in but here's one of the most fundamental things in the world. You have sunshine, soil, water and we're trying to make a crop thrive and there's a lot of lessons you can take from that and apply to your daily life."

For more information, visit www.cdfa.ca.gov


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