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Seeds of Life Film Project

The Seeds Of Life Film Project chronicles the Generational Garden Project in Oxnard, California. In mid-2009 two Ventura County Agencies, the Area Agency on Aging (VCAAA) and the Probation Agency decided to collaborate on a project as inspired as it is simple.

An agreement was reached to cultivate a quarter-acre of fallow land adjacent to the Juvenile Justice Center and grow cherry tomatoes there. After spending $3 a pint for cherry tomatoes from Chile for its Senior Nutrition Program, the VCAAA approached the Probation Agency and a new direction was embarked on.

Local agricultural businesses like Seminis, Coast Water Solutions and Rio Mesa Farms enthusiastically supported the Generational Garden Project and, along with volunteer project coordinator Bill Jaeger and consultant Diane Beeler , made the project happen.,

The Ventura Film Society’s 2009 ArtsLive Grant from the Ventura County Community Foundation/James Irvine Foundation, was to create a lasting document of this bold and innovative social idea. The VFS mentored media team members from Oxnard City Corps to make a short film capturing every aspect of the project, from its inception to land clearing and cultivation by City Corps youth, through delivery of over 25,000 tomatoes to over 3,000 Seniors at the Goebel Senior Center in Thousand Oaks and other locations and meal programs throughout Ventura County.

The VFS has met several objectives through the Seeds Of Life Film Project. We have forged links within and between groups in our community who would normally not have much contact with each other. We have provided mentoring services and media skills to aspiring City Corps filmmakers from professional filmmakers affiliated with the VFS. Those activities have included planning, execution and completion of a ten minute film, SEEDS OF LIFE, which has involved working with the City Corps Media Team on cinematography, photography, script writing, editing, sound design, music, titles and exploration of distribution options.

Working with the City Corps Media Team, headed by Aracely Juarez, has resulted in a number of still-evolving success stories. Aracely stepped up to the plate in directing and filming in a number of challenging technical situations. Her ability to foresee the visual elements of a story in terms of the why, when, what, where and how to film has increased a great deal since the beginning of this project. She also supervised the editing process within City Corps, mentored by Lorenzo DeStefano, Pall Grimsson and Michael Thanhouser of the VFS.

         "The Seeds of Life Community Garden created an opportunity for recreation, exercise, therapy, and education."
-Aracely Juarez

Other youth members of City Corps Oxnard’s Media team responded to the mentors input and now see the elements of the story that need to be covered in order to create an informative and moving filmed document. They included Betty Rosales, Robert Castellanos, Melissa Cancino and Miguel Meza.

         "The fact that I'm helping seniors get the vitamins that they need gives me a huge sense of accomplishment, because of the process that had to take place to actually get the tomatoes.  We had to relieve the soil of rocks and anything else that would conflict with the tomato plants growth.  Then we had to plant the seeds, make sure they got enough water and were growing properly, and pick the tomatoes weekly.  After all that we helped deliver the tomatoes to the seniors themselves.  For me, it was a selfless act of kindness that came with a huge reward.  The award being how greatly appreciative the seniors were and all the thanks we got for our efforts to help."
-Miguel Meza

Other youth members of City Corps Oxnard, including Peter Rosales, Mario Jimenez, Paul Juarez, Manuel Munoz, Alex Ultreras, Kyle Ray and Eddie Dominguez participated in the prepping, planting and picking stages of the Generational Garden Project.

    "Nothing brings people together like a garden that from the bottom up was meant to do one thing: benefiting the community and getting the community involved. The Seeds of Life garden has been an experience like no other because I was there that first day when we started removing rocks and other debris. I was there when the seeds were planted and picked the tomatoes when they were ripe. Finally, I was there on the absolute last day when the last batch of the tomatoes and removed the plants to allow for the next batch next year to have a fresh start. Working at the garden has been experience that I shall never forget because it shows how much of an impact a small number of people can have on the community. A group of no more than 30 people were able to help feed over 3000 elderly people in Ventura County."
-Alex Ultreras

         "It gave us the opportunity to meet people who we never thought we would meet.  It was rewarding going to the Goebel Senior Adult Center and meet our elderly enjoying a product young people planted, harvested, and distributed."
-Kyle Ray

"Working in the Seeds of Life Community Garden has been a real experience for me and the youth I worked with.   I got to see firsthand what it takes to do real farming.   The preparation of the land was real.  It was hands on and dirty.  Then we got to plant tomato plants, which was peaceful and fun.  The best part was watching the plants grow.  Then watching the tomatoes pop out.   The whole project changed completely when we delivered a batch of fresh picked cherry tomatoes to the senior center in Thousand Oaks.  This is where the meaning of the whole project really sank in, and made all our hard work truly meaningful."
-Eddie Dominguez

The transformative experience of doing something like growing food for the County’s Senior Nutritional Program awakened in these young people a new sense of community. They would normally not have much or anything to do with seniors, maybe even in their own families. The Seeds Of Life Film Project has shown them the practical and spiritual benefits of giving of themselves. Here are some of their comments about their participation in the Seeds Of Life project.

The Ventura Film Society is very pleased with the progress of the SEEDS OF LIFE FILM PROJECT and the new associations that have resulted from it. Premiere public screenings of the film in Oxnard and Ventura will be organized soon.

Please feel free to contact our partners in the Seeds Of Life Film Project for their comments and perspectives.


VCAAA (Ventura County Area Agency on Aging)

Victoria Jump – Director VCAAA (c/o Elizabeth Renteria -  elizabeth.renteria@ventura.org / 805 477-7306)

Susan White - Director of VCAAA Senior Nutrition Program (Susan.White@ventura.org / 805 477-7311)

Bill & Patti Jaeger – Generational Garden Project Director & Senior Nutritionist-VCAAA - jaegzter@yahoo.com / 805 340-1125

Diane Beeler – Generational Garden Project Advisor -  beelergardendsgn@aol.com / 805 652-1456


Aracely Juarez - aracely.juarez@citycorps.org / 805 857-4265


Lorenzo DeStefano
Founder & Director

805 641-3845 / info@venturafilmsociety.com

PO BOX 24303


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