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Harvest of the Month is Pixie Tangerines from Ojai

Ojai Pixie Ojai pixie tangerines are the June Harvest of the Month from the Food Services Department. Students at more than 30 year-round schools will enjoy the sweet, easy-to-peel fruit.

"The pixie tangerine comes only from this small valley high above California's central coast," said Vanessa Zajfen, Farm To School specialist. "Pixie tangerines are pale orange, moderately juicy and always seedless."

Part of the district's Farm to School initiative, the Harvest of the Month program provides fresh, local produce to school cafeterias. The Farm to School initiative connects schools and local farms with the objectives of serving healthy meals in school cafeterias, improving student nutrition, supporting local and regional farmers, and providing agriculture, health and nutrition education to students.

Students will learn that the pixie tangerine was developed by Howard B. Frost in 1927 at the University of California Citrus Research Center at Riverside. They grow only in the Ojai Valley, north of Santa Barbara.

A collective of 40 small family farmers works together to meet the high demand for their tangerines. Some of the orchards have just a few dozen trees, while others have several thousand. Each orchard is harvested individually when the fruit is at its peak.

"We think this will be very popular with all our students," Zafjen said. "Even our kindergartners with their little fingers can enjoy this pixie."

For more information, go to the Food Services website at www.sandi.net/food and click on "Farm to School." The pixie has its own website at http://www.pixietangerine.com/